CASE SUMMARY

On June 28, 2021, a Virginia voter filed a federal lawsuit against Virginia's Governor, the Virginia Department of Elections, the State Board of Elections, and various state election officials, challenging the state's plan to move forward with the 2021 legislative elections under the legislative redistricting plan enacted during the 2010 cycle. The plaintiff alleges that due to population shifts over the last decade, Virginia's current legislative districts have now become unconstitutionally malapportioned, and due to the delayed release of 2020 census data, new properly apportioned plans will not be able to be drawn in time for the 2021 legislative elections. The plaintiff cites a 1981 federal court decision from Virginia in which the General Assembly's initial redistricting plan was invalidated by the court, thereby leaving the prior decade's now-malapportioned redistricting plan in effect with the 1981 election rapidly approaching and necessary preparations already having begun. That court held if General Assembly members were to be elected under a then-unconstitutionally malapportioned districting plan, those elected would serve only one-year terms and a new election would have to be held in 1982 under a properly apportioned districting plan. On that basis, the plaintiff is requesting that the court declare Virginia's legislative redistricting plan unconstitutional and order that the delegates elected in 2021 shall serve only one-year terms, with a new General Assembly election to be held in 2022 concurrent with the general election for the U.S. House of Representatives.

On October 12, 2021, the district court dismissed the plaintiffs' claims against Virginia's Governor and the State Board of Elections on the grounds they were barred by sovereign immunity, which the remaining defendants appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit six days later. On March 15, 2022, the Fourth Circuit remanded the case back to the district court with directions to assess and resolve whether the plaintiff possessed Article III standing to bring his claims. On June 6, 2022, the district court issued an opinion and order dismissing the case after finding the plaintiff lacked standing to pursue his claims. The plaintiff appealed this ruling to the 4th Circuit on June 21, 2022.

CASE LIBRARY

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division - No. 3:21-cv-420 [formerly Goldman v. Northam]

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit - No 21-2180 [interlocutory appeal]

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division - No. 3:21-cv-420 [on remand]