Virginia Supreme Court rejects GOP’s nominees for influential redistricting role

Virginia Republicans just suffered a massive defeat in court.

In a Friday ruling, the Virginia Supreme Court rejected all three of Republicans’ nominees to serve as “special master” over the state’s upcoming redistricting process, the Associated Press reported.

According to Washington Examiner, one GOP nominee was formally disqualified, while the state high court “cast doubt on two others.”

The judges ordered state Republicans to put up three new names for consideration by Monday, the AP said.

The details

During the 2020 election, Virginians voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that established a bipartisan commission to oversee the redistricting process. But the commission has thus far failed to reach an agreement on how to redraw the lines on the legislative map — and now, the process is being left to the state’s Supreme Court.

To help with the redistricting process, the Virginia Supreme Court has called upon Republicans and Democrats in the commonwealth to each provide it with a list of nominees who would serve as special masters during the redistricting process. From these nominees, the court said it would pick two: one Republican and one Democrat.

Each party put up three nominees for the role. The Democrats’ nominees, according to the Examiner, are Bernard Grofman, Nathaniel Persily, and Bruce Cain.

Republicans, meanwhile, suggested Thomas Bryan, Adam Kincaid, and Adam Foltz for the job. All three, reports said, were summarily rejected for alleged conflicts of interest.

Politics and partisanship

The court specifically disqualified Bryan, who is said to have been paid a $20,000 consulting fee by Virginia Senate Republicans back in September.

“[U]pon a review of the Republican submissions, the Court also has concerns about the ability of the remaining Republican nominees to serve in the role of Special Master as described in this Order,” the court said, as the Examiner reported.

According to the AP, the court emphasized in its ruling that it wants the process to be nonpartisan, and said special masters “will not be permitted to consult with any political parties, partisan organizations, outside experts, or any other person or entity except for their personal support staff and individuals specifically authorized by this Court.”

Looking ahead, it cannot be overstated just how important the redistricting process will be for both Republicans and Democrats as they seek to regain control of Congress in the 2022 midterms. Despite recent wins at the ballot box, Virginia’s GOP seems to have gotten off to a rough start.

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