Redistricting Done Properly in W.Va.
Partisan politics rules much of what happens under the state Capitol dome in Charleston, often to the detriment of the people of West Virginia. But last year the Legislature did something the right way, despite enormous pressure to do otherwise.
Voting districts from which members of Congress are elected must be adjusted, or “redistricted,” every decade to account for population changes reflected by the Census. In many states, lawmakers take that as an open invitation to engage in gerrymandering.
There were suggestions West Virginia lawmakers should do that last year. Redistricting would be a golden opportunity for the Democrat-controlled Legislature to harm one or both of the two Republicans who represent northern and central West Virginia in Congress, it was suggested (they are U.S. Reps. David McKinley, R-First District, and Shelley Capito, R-Second District).
But legislators did not take that route. Instead, they set new boundaries that kept the three congressional districts as nearly as possible where they were previously.
As we commented last year, that was the responsible, nonpartisan approach.
It did not please everyone, however. A lawsuit challenging the redistricting plan was filed. A three-judge federal court panel agreed with the challengers.
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the final word in the case. It upheld the state. High court justices concluded, “It is clear West Virginia has carried its burden” to set new congressional districts with populations as nearly equal as possible, while avoiding unnecessary disruptions.
Again, partisan politics rears its ugly head too often in West Virginia. In this case, state leaders deserve to be commended for doing the right thing.