FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Government Leadership Foundation Defends the Virginia House of Delegates Against Partisan Power Grab for Democrats by Attorney General Mark Herring at U.S. Supreme Court
Attorney General Mark Herring Is Using His Office to Be the Sole Authority Over Legislative Map Drawing in Virginia
WASHINGTON (January 4, 2019) — The State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF) filed an amicus brief today with the U.S. Supreme Court in Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill, supporting the Virginia House of Delegates’ standing to appeal the lower court’s decision in the Virginia redistricting case. In a transparent, partisan political ploy, Virginia’s Democrat Attorney General and 2021 candidate for Governor, Mark Herring, argues that the Republican-led House of Delegates lacks standing to defend its own redistricting plan, which it drew in 2011 and passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. Instead, Herring argues that only he can defend the map, which he has chosen not to do, effectively short-circuiting its legal defense and putting himself, instead of the constitutionally empowered legislature, in charge of legislative map drawing in Virginia.
The amicus brief undercuts Attorney General Herring’s argument, stating: “As the body primarily responsible for the design of the redistricting plan governing its composition and the composition of its members’ constituents, including the balancing of myriad legal and political goals, the Virginia House of Delegates unquestionably has standing to defend its plan in accordance with the Court’s long-established precedent and practice in redistricting cases […] The State Appellees…provide no such special justification for up-ending decades-long precedent and principles recognizing the vital role and interest of the legislative body with regard to redistricting plans and standing to appeal, thus threatening long-established, standard procedure of legislative participation at all stages of redistricting litigation.”
“In most states, legislative map drawing has long been the constitutionally protected function of the democratic body closest to the voters, the state legislature,” said Matt Walter, Executive Director of the State Government Leadership Foundation. “What we have seen from Democrats and progressives in the past year is a systemic effort, in multiple states, to remove that power from state legislatures through both partisan-backed ballot measures and litigation, moving that authority further away from the voters and placing it in the hands of one political party. Today, the SGLF, along with ALEC and the Lawyers Democracy Fund are united in their opposition to Attorney General Herring’s efforts to rig the system for Democrats in Virginia,” Walter concluded.
SGLF’s amicus brief further explains, “[i]f state legislative parties are not permitted to defend their redistricting plans through intervention and on appeal, the defense of the legislature’s interest may depend on a state attorney general or other state executive whose political party may benefit electorally from no defense at all…The Present case represents exactly the sort of risk warned about by the courts…and threatens the orderly resolution of redistricting cases…Having not represented the House at any stage in these proceedings, the Attorney General now asserts only it can represent the House for the purposes of filing an appeal to this Court, which the Attorney General determined it would not do. While one cannot speculate about the motivations of the Attorney General’s decision not to appeal, it is contrary to the clear and direct interests of his newly-claimed client, the Virginia House of Delegates.”
Marguerite Leoni, a prominent conservative attorney with the firm Nielsen Merksamer, authored the brief, which is joined by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Lawyers Democracy Fund.
A copy of the brief is available here.
SGLF is a 501 (c)(4) social welfare organization and a strategic partner to the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC)—home to the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association, Republican Legislative Campaign Committee and the Republican Secretaries of State Committee. By supporting and advocating for state-level leadership and solutions, SGLF promotes good governance and the conservative principles of limited government, low taxes, less regulation, and individual liberty and opportunity for all. SGLF is dedicated to educating policymakers and the public about the benefits of smaller government, lower taxes, balanced budgets and efficient governing.