Court won’t hear redistricting case

CHARLES TOWN – A federal three-judge panel has declined to hear a lawsuit by the Jefferson County Commission that challenges the state’s 2011 congressional redistricting plan following a reversal by the U.S. Supreme Court’s that the plan was unconstitutional.

The high court’s ruling dealt only with the claim that the plan was unconstitutional by violating the “one person, one vote” principle established in Supreme Court precedents. The original case also claims the plan violates the state Constitution, which requires that the congressional districts be “compact.” The commission argued that the 2nd Congressional District, which runs from Jefferson to Kanawha County and is only tens of miles wide at its narrowest point, is not compact.

The panel ruled that it no longer constituted the best venue for the case to be heard, since it now deals solely with questions of state law and the state Constitution. It has determined it is better for a West Virginia court to sort out such matters.

Stephen Skinner, who served as the commission’s attorney said the County Commission can choose to file in state court.

– Bryan Clark

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