CHARLES TOWN – Lawyers for the state and the Jefferson County Commission are preparing arguments for submission to the Supreme Court after it agreed to stay a lower court’s order throwing out the state’s 2011 congressional redistricting plan.
[cleeng_content id="760058771" description="Read it now!" price="0.15"]The court is expected to decide whether to take the case in the fall.
Attorney Stephen Skinner updated the County Commission last week on preparations for the coming court battle.
“I have some good news to report. Obviously (Dave) Hammer and I were successful at trial,” Skinner said. “Unfortunately, all the folks on the other side joined together and asked the Supreme Court to stay the decision and effectively keep in place the current plan. The court did grant that.”
The stay guaranteed that the 2012 congressional elections would proceed under a redistricting plan that keeps Jefferson County in a long, snaking district that runs past Charleston.
Skinner said state officials have until next Tuesday to file their appeal with the Supreme Court, though they could also file for a 60-day extension.
“The counsel for Speaker (Rick) Thompson has indicated that they’re not going to ask for an extension, but – understanding the nature of how litigation and deadlines work – I would not be surprised to see a request for an extension,” Skinner said.
Once the appeal has been filed, Jefferson County will have 30 days to file its response.
The court will decide whether to take jurisdiction over the case, a decision Skinner expects to see in the fall.
“The stay will dissolve if the United States Supreme Court does not take the case,” Skinner explained. “If the court does not take jurisdiction, then I would expect that in the next legislative session there would be a requirement for a new congressional redistricting.”
“If they do take jurisdiction, then we will battle it out at the Supreme Court,” Skinner said.
Skinner said he and Hammer have brought in outside counsel who specialize in appellate litigation and have experience arguing before the Supreme Court, though he declined to identify them. He said they have agreed not to charge the county for their services.
“They are talented appellate lawyers who practice at the Supreme Court level. We’re going to have a first-rate product,” Skinner said. “Dave and I have no ego involved in being the ones who actually write, or even argue at the Supreme Court, although we’ll be there every step of the way.”
Commissioner Frances Morgan said she is pleased with the county’s prospects for success in the case.
“If the Supreme Court rejects the case, we win because it goes back to what the three-judge panel (ordered.) If the Supreme Court takes the case then we could still win.”[/cleeng_content]