Forbes slams ruling

Published 9:55 pm Friday, January 15, 2016

Congressman J. Randy Forbes says a panel of judges that found Virginia’s Third Congressional District to be racially gerrymandered and had it redrawn overreached, and he’s confident the U.S. Supreme Court will fix it.

“You have two judges who dramatically overreached, and they basically rewrote the law across the country, not just for Virginia,” Forbes said Tuesday.

The lawsuit started when two residents of the Third Congressional District, currently represented by Democrat Bobby Scott, sued the State Board of Elections, saying the district is racially gerrymandered.

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The panel from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division, twice found the Third District unconstitutional and ordered the Virginia General Assembly to implement a new district plan by Sept. 1. The General Assembly failed to do so.

The court therefore appointed Dr. Bernard Grofman, an economics and political science professor at the University of California Irvine, to assist in drawing a new plan.

His plan selected by the court alters Scott’s and Forbes’s districts, as well as the Second Congressional District, currently represented by Republican Scott Rigell, who announced last week he will not seek re-election.

In Suffolk, Forbes would lose portions of the downtown area and everything north of the bypass and U.S. Route 460.

The demographics of his district would change radically. Eleven percent of its electorate would shift from white to black, though it would still be more white: 51 percent to 43 percent.

Scott would gain all of that. His district becomes more white — from 34 percent to 45 percent — but is still slightly majority black with 48 percent black voters.

Rigell’s district would also change slightly, losing portions of the Peninsula. Two percent of its electorate would shift from black to white.

Forbes said he’s confident the Supreme Court will prevent the redrawn lines from taking effect.

“I think we will find the Supreme Court saying what they did was neither appropriate not legal,” he said. “That’s why you have checks and balances.”