VA State Senators in Contempt in Redistricting Case

Apr 8, 2016

A Richmond judge has ruled a group of Virginia state senators in contempt of court -- for failing to turn over documents that could be helpful in an ongoing lawsuit.

In question in the suit is whether lawmakers, of both parties, have unconstitutionally drawn up district lines purposefully lumping together certain areas to make reelection easier.

The lawsuit was filed last September by a handful of citizens, and funded by a group called One Virginia 2021. To help make their case, they tried to get their hands on any documents that would help shine a light on how lawmakers’ drew up district boundaries.

“Emails, letters, phone records whatever it is that they have on their computers or in their offices.”

Brian Cannon is the executive director of One Virginia 2021.

“And these would be documents showing what factors they considered, did they adhere to the Virginia constitution, or was it just all partisan politics?”  

But a group of six state senators -- former and current, republican and democratic -- claims that information is protected. In January, a judge disagreed, saying any communication with a third party must be handed over for the trial. And now that the state senators have opted not to, they’ll each be fined 100-dollars a day.

“The judge said the state senators are asking in their capacity as state senators and therefore the taxpayers are on the hook.”

The fines will rack up as both sides wait to hear the results of an appeal. If the senators lose, the money will come from Virginia’s general fund.