US Supreme Court issues stay in redistricting case

By Steve Korris | Jan 20, 2012


WASHINGTON - U.S. Supreme Court Justices have plunged West Virginia elections more deeply into uncertainty.

Chief Justice John Roberts stayed an injunction against a map of congressional districts on Jan. 20, after referring the matter to the other eight Justices.

The stay will remain in place pending the filing of an appeal by legislative leaders seeking to preserve the map they adopted in August.

The map follows county lines and matches one currently in place except for transfer of Mason County from Second District to Third.

Acting Senate President Jeffrey Kessler and Speaker Richard Thompson of the House of Delegates must file an appeal in 60 days after filing notice at district court in Charleston.

As of Jan. 19, they hadn't filed an appeal notice.

Justice Robert King of the Fourth Circuit appellate court and U.S. District Judge Irene Berger of Charleston enjoined the map on Jan. 3. U.S. District Judge John Bailey of Martinsburg dissented.

King and Berger declared variations in population among the state's three districts unconstitutional.

Candidates for Congress must file for ballot positions by Jan. 28, but no one in West Virginia knows what territory he or she would represent.

King and Berger, in denying a stay, advised legislators that an appeal might make it necessary to enact new deadlines.

Berkeley County Republicans sent a letter to the district court on Jan. 19, proposing to stick with the old map this year and draw a new one for elections in 2014.

"We are concerned that the Legislature will be forced into making a hasty decision that will not serve the best interests of our citizens, even though it may meet the minimum Constitutional requirements," Mick Staton wrote for the party's executive committee.

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