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Federal Appeals Panel Kicks Virginia Election Lawsuit Back to Lower Court

— March 15, 2022

The Democratic activist behind the lawsuit has celebrated the latest development as a major victory for democracy.

A federal court has sent a lawsuit challenging Virginia’s 2021 House elections back to a lower court, which will determine whether the Democratic activist behind the complaint has legal standing to sue.

According to WRIC, a three-judge panel from the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments between attorney and former Virginia Democratic Party chairman Paul Goldman, and Virginia Solicitor General Andrew Ferguson.

Virginia, says WRIC, had appealed a U.S. District Court ruling allowing Goldman’s lawsuit to proceed.

Goldman’s lawsuit centers on a Virginia decision to hold the 2021 House elections along old district lines.

However, the state claims that—in spite of his possible damages—he does not have standing to sue the Board of Elections and Virginia’s Election Commissioner.

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“It is apparent,” the panel wrote in its finding, “that a determination of the standing to sue issue ‘cannot be achieved simply by reviewing the plaintiffs’ pleadings and the limited record on appeal.”

Goldman, notes, said that Virginia’s illegally allowed its 2021 House elections to be held using districts dependent on data from the 2011 United States Census.

According to Goldman’s lawsuit, this left many districts—including his own—lacking adequate representation.

Goldman claims this alleged oversight violates the principle of “one person, one vote.”

Despite the case being moved back to lower court, Goldman has posited the ruling as a win for democracy.

“This is a major victory for the people,” Goldman said in a Tuesday statement. “Hopefully now the people who have just been sending me good luck can join my case. There’s nothing to stop them.”

While Goldman hopes to have another round of elections this year, state politicians said they are skeptical that Goldman’s case will move quickly enough to necessitate a re-do.

“There’s just now way,” Del. Tim Anderson (R-Virginia Beach) told WRIC. “I’ve been practicing law for 22 years; I’ve never seen courts move in that kind of speed.”

“I think what’s going to happen,” Anderson said, “is we’re going to run out of time.”

Goldman, however, disagrees.

“There’s plenty of time for the judiciary to vindicate the rights of the people, or of the [Attorney General’s] right,” Goldman said. “The governor and attorney general should join and say the rights of the voters were violated because of the unconstitutional districts last year.”

While Democrats controlled the Virginia House of Delegates before 2021, conservatives seized control after the last election.

If Goldman’s lawsuit is successful, it could be the third year in a row that both major parties are vying for a majority.


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