Virginia Republicans Admit They Rigged The State’s Congressional Districts To Elect GOP Lawmakers

In a court filing offered by the Republican members of Virginia’s congressional delegation, the lawmakers who benefit most from these gerrymandered maps admitted that the GOP intentionally rigged the state’s congressional districts in order to produce a lopsided delegation. The state legislature’s “overarching priorities” in drawing the maps, according to the court filing, was “incumbency protection and preservation of cores to maintain the 8-3 partisan division established in the 2010 election.”

2010 was a very good year for Republicans, enabling the GOP to capture unusually large portions of state congressional delegations. 2012, by contrast, was a strong year for Democrats which saw the reelection of President Obama. And yet, by these Republican lawmakers’ own admission, the maps drawn between the 2010 and 2012 elections were draw for the explicit purpose of ensuring that the GOP’s unusually strong performance in 2010 would be replicated year after year — even in years when the electorate was more favorable to Democrats. The GOP’s goal, in other words, was to render congressional elections little more than political theater, an annual ritual that would produce the same 8-3 delegation every single time.

The lawmakers’ admission that Virginia’s maps were drawn to lock in a delegation that’s unusually favorable to the GOP came as part of ongoing litigation over the legality of the state’s maps. As a general rule, the Supreme Court does not permit lawsuits challenging partisan gerrymandering (that’s despite the fact that a majority of the Court has, at times, indicated its belief that partisan gerrymanders can violate the Constitution). Under current precedents, however, congressional maps can be struck down because they engage in an impermissible racial gerrymander. And, indeed, a federal court did strike down Virginia’s current maps because of a racially impermissible district.