by Chris Lewis
On Jan. 4, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia rejected the state’s new congressional map, the second state to have its map thrown out by the courts this redistricting cycle (Texas’ map was rejected in November). The 2-1 opinion from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District declared the maps unconstitutional due to population variance between the districts, a violation of the “one man, one vote” principle that has been in effect since the 1960’s. While it is commendable that the judges had this tenet in mind when crafting its decision, they deserve scrutiny for a result that will likely have little real impact outside of headaches for state officials and confusion for voters.
Unlike its counterpart in the Lone Star State, West Virginia’s map was passed without much acrimony, overwhelmingly approved by votes of 27-4 in the State Senate and 90-5 in the House of Delegates. Though Democrats control both houses, just three Republicans voted against the new map, a stark contrast to other states that have seen redistricting turn into bitter partisan battles. The legislature made just one change, shifting Mason County from the 2nd District (represented by Republican Shelley Moore Capito) to the 3rd District (represented by Democrat Nick Rahall). The change represented about a one percent change in party affiliation in both districts. Continue reading