I can not find it
Published 12:05 pm Wednesday, October 14, 2015
I’m sitting here with a copy of the U. S. Constitution in front of me. I have read it over and over again. Nowhere can I find anything that would allow the judicial branch of government the authority to make law.
Article III of the Constitution gives the courts the power to consider equity and law that might arise under the Constitution. Simply put, it gives the courts the power to determine if laws passed by the states or federal government are in conflict with the Constitution.
Either they cannot read or I cannot comprehend, but the language is simply not there that gives them the authority to make law.
The Fourth Circuit Court seems to have found such authority to make law regarding redistricting.
The redistricting process is handled just as any other legislation. A bill is offered after each ten year census to balance the district population between the districts.
Each district in a state must have approximately the same population. Because some areas grow faster than others, the lines must be adjusted accordingly. As is their right, the Democrats sued the state for political reasons.
The court ruled in their favor and ordered the General Assembly to redraw the lines with greater consideration along racial lines despite previous approval by the U.S. Justice Department based on their guidelines.
We met in a special session to consider needed changes. Before we could act, at the behest of Senator Donald McEachin, the Democrats shut down the session before any changes could be considered.
At this point, it would appear to me that the justices had three solutions that could have been taken: 1. Extend the time for the General Assembly to act. 2. Freeze the elections until new districts are drawn. 3. Fine each member of the General Assembly until we draw a new plan.
They do not have the authority to draw new lines or commission someone else to do so.
However, that is exactly what they have done.
Not only that, they have ordered the three staff people to promise that they will not share this legislative action with the public until after it is finished. In doing so, all open and transparent government policy was ignored.
With redistricting there is plenty of room for hypocrisy for all. When the Democrats controlled the House, Senate and Governor’s office, they drew all kinds of silly districts. When the Republicans had a first-ever chance when they controlled both the House and Senate, they did about as bad as the Democrats.
In 2011, the Republicans drew the lines in the House as did the Democrats in the Senate.
No one denies that the lines in both could have been more compact.
The Democrats solution was to go to court while the Republicans did the right thing by running and winning a majority at the ballot box. Now the Democrats are suing their own senate-drawn district lines because they lost the senate.
The Governor is no less a hypocrite. To save taxpayers, the General Assembly proposed adjusting some lines that are causing extra expense to the counties.
The Governor vetoed that legislation explaining that the Constitution only allowed redistricting once every ten years.
Now he is trying to change all eleven congressional districts because of a three percent issue in one district.
Frank Ruff, a Republican, represents Lunenburg County in the Virginia State Senate. His email address is Sen.Ruff@verizon.net.