A letter published in The Free Lance–Star casts aspersions on the Virginia Supreme Court based on a ruling from seven years ago in an attempt to discredit the sweeping reforms that the Virginia Redistricting Commission Amendment will bring to the redistricting process [“Virginia Supreme Court is not trustworthy,” Sept. 8].
But this amendment will finally make redistricting about people rather than politicians.
Amendment 1 would create a citizen-led, bipartisan commission to re-draw electoral districts with publicly available data, open meetings and historic civil rights protections for marginalized communities.
However, it is true that if the commission cannot reach an agreement, this responsibility will be given to the Virginia Supreme Court.
Here’s where the previous letter-writer had their facts wrong:
The Virginia Supreme Court consists of a very well-regarded group who have risen to their current positions through trusted rulings. The previous letter points to a controversial case to discredit the judicial integrity of the court, forgetting that almost half of the current justices weren’t even on the court at that time.
Furthermore, according to Article VI of Virginia’s Constitution, justices must follow the letter of the law in drawing maps, which would forbid racial and partisan gerrymandering.
Additionally, state supreme courts are already trusted in many other states’ redistricting processes to act as a final arbitrator, including Colorado and Idaho. This is because while state legislators have a long history of gerrymandering, the same cannot be said for state courts.
I encourage Virginians to look past fear-mongering and demand change in the redistricting process. Voting “Yes” on Amendment 1 in November will help strengthen our democracy for the coming decade.
Catch the latest in Opinion
Get opinion pieces, letters and editorials sent directly to your inbox weekly!