Dec 28, 2011- The W.Va. Redistricting Fight Heads Back to Court

By: Michael Hyland
By: Michael Hyland

This time the opponents of the congressional redistricting plan took their arguments to federal court.

It took two special sessions of the Legislature to get all of West Virginia's statewide electoral maps redrawn, but the fight over them hasn't ended.

The Jefferson County Commission and Kanawha County lawyer Thornton Cooper were in court Wednesday before a three-judge panel, explaining why they think the congressional maps were drawn incorrectly.

The only major change this year was moving Mason County from the second district (represented by Republican Shelley Moore Capito) to the third district (represented by Democrat Nick Rahall). What upsets Easter Panhandle residents is that the region is split between the first and second districts, as it has been for several years. Critics argue the move dilutes the growing region's political power and violates the concept of "one man, one vote."

Cooper has drawn his own versions of the various maps and has urged the courts to adopt them.

West Virginia's Supreme Court recently rejected challenges to the state House and Senate maps, saying it's the prerogative of the Legislature to draw maps as members desire.

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Federal judges want West Virginia officials to explain the slight change made to the state's congressional districts.
     
Arguments over the redistricting challenge prompted a three-judge U.S. District Court panel to seek testimony at a Wednesday hearing.     

The Jefferson County Commission filed the challenge. Kanawha County lawyer Thornton Cooper later joined the case.     

These plaintiffs are focused on the 2nd U.S. House of Representatives district. They argue it is too sprawling and overpopulated to pass constitutional muster.     

The redistricting plan shifts Mason County from the 2nd District to the 3rd District. It leaves the 1st District untouched. The tweak followed the 2010 Census results.     

Lawyers for legislative leaders told the judges Wednesday that the plan passed overwhelmingly, following debate over several alternatives. They say prior court rulings support the Legislature's approach.

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