Lawsuit Seeking House Elections This November Dismissed!

On Monday, August 1, U.S. District Judge David Novak granted a motion to dismiss the lawsuit seeking 2022 Virginia House elections with updated districts. Judge Novak ruled that the plaintiffs – author Jeff Thomas, Loudoun County NAACP President Rev. Michelle Thomas and attorney Phillip Thompson – lack standing and that the Eastern District of Virginia “lacks subject matter jurisdiction.”  @8NEWS reported that Thomas has said he won’t appeal the decision.  The House will now be up for election again on new maps in 2023.

The 49-page opinion by Judge Novak is available through a Virginia Mercury article by Graham Moomaw, Federal Judge throws out second redistricting suit seeking new Va. House elections.



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Expedited Schedule and Additional Plaintiffs for Lawsuit

On Monday, June 13, a federal judge agreed to an expedited schedule for the Jeff Thomas lawsuit and ordered the parties to make their initial filings by early July.  Judge David J. Novak also criticized both the Herring and Miyares Attorney Generals offices for delays.  A Virginia Mercury article quoted Judge Novak, “Had the state not bogged down the case, the legal issues could’ve been resolved last fall.”

Then on Thursday, June 16, WRIC ABC8News reported that the Rev. Michelle C. Thomas, current president of the Loudoun County NAACP, and former chapter president Phillip Thompson had joined the Jeff Thomas lawsuit as plaintiffs.   

Unlike the previous Goldman case, “the plaintiffs in the new lawsuit are voters living in some of the most overpopulated districts and argue that their votes in 2021 were weakened compared to voters in the least populous district.

The amended lawsuit alleges the state’s decision to hold elections under the old districts violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Voting Rights Act because the plaintiffs and other similarly-situated residents were underrepresented. It calls for for primary elections to be held on or before Sept. 13, 2022, and to hold the state House elections on Nov. 8, 2022, when the congressional midterms will be held.”


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New Lawsuit Filed Seeking House Elections This November!

Graham Moomaw of the “Virginia Mercury” has reported there is a new federal lawsuit seeking new Virginia House of Delegates elections this year.  The case, Jeffrey Thomas, Jr. vs Susan Beals and Robert Brink, was filed Wednesday, June 8 by Jeff Thomas, a Virginia author of books on Virginia government and politics.  Susan Beals is Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections and Robert Brink is the Chairman of the Virginia Board of Elections. 

The federal court had ruled Monday that Paul Goldman lacked standing to sue over Virginia’s delayed redistricting process because his district was underpopulated when compared to the ideal district size.  Jeff Thomas’ Richmond-area district, however, was overpopulated, “potentially giving him a stronger claim his vote was illegally diluted by the state’s failure to complete redistricting on time.”  Thomas has asked for speedy consideration of his case, but there are still doubts whether election officials would have enough time to conduct Virginia House elections in November. 

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Goldman Lawsuit Dismissed

A panel of three federal judges has dismissed the Goldman lawsuit seeking new House of Delegates elections this year.  The lawsuit filed by Democratic lawyer Paul Goldman in June 2021 claimed the 2021 House elections were unconstitutional because they were held on old district lines that hadn’t been updated to reflect 202 U.S. Census data. 

U.S. District Judge David Novak, U.S. Circuit Judge Stephanie D. Thacker and Senior U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson ruled June 6 in a 31-page opinion that Paul Goldman lacked standing to pursue the lawsuit because he couldn’t show his particular rights had been violated either as a voter or a candidate. 

According to reporter Graham Moomaw in a “Virginia Mercury” article,  “the opinion seems to acknowledge the possibility another party could step in to try to pick up the fight where Goldman failed.  While other groups have shown interest in Goldman’s legal battle, it took nearly a year for the court to rule on the basic question of whether Goldman had standing to sue, raising doubts about whether a new lawsuit could be filed and heard in time to conduct new elections this fall.  If no other legal challenges or appeals emerge, the House would be up for election again on new maps in 2023.”


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News Report – Goldman Plans to Withdraw Lawsuit

“Virginia Scope,” an independent news publication, reported May 20:

“Paul Goldman sent out a mass text Friday evening stating that he plans to withdraw the lawsuit that was seeking to force new elections in the House of Delegates this year. Goldman filed the lawsuit after a delay in redistricting led to elections in 2021 happening under the old lines.

“It’s clear no one in any branch of [government] cares that [Virginia] used unconstitutional OLD House of Delegates districts in 2021,” Goldman wrote in the text. “I can’t afford anymore money and time, it’s not a good time for me.” 

“The lawsuit has been moving slowly and was first filed when Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring was in office and opposed it. Republican Attorney General Jason Miyares took over on Jan. 15 and his office continued to oppose the lawsuit from Goldman.

“If Goldman follows through and drops his lawsuit, the House of Delegates and state Senate will run for reelection again in 2023.”



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Update on “Goldman” Legal Case

New briefs have been filed in the Virginia legal case as to whether there should be a fresh election for the Virginia House of Delegates this November using the new district maps.  A brief regarding “standing” was filed by Attorney Paul Goldman on April 18, 2022.  The reply by Attorney General Jason Miyares was filed April 25.  A ruling is expected soon from U.S. Eastern District Court of Virginia’s Judge David J. Novak.

Graham Moomaw’s article in the April 29 Virginia Mercury  provides an update and very useful overview of the court challenge.



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Mid-April Deadline in Legal Case re House of Delegates Elections

Congressional elections will be held this November for candidates running in the 11 newly drawn Congressional districts.  Candidates for the new state Senate and House of Delegate districts are scheduled to run in 2023.

The House of Delegates elections, however, could be moved up to this November if a legal challenge to last year’s House elections is successful. Under the Virginia constitution, the 2021 House elections should have been held in new districts that reapportioned voters based on the 2020 Census. Because the federal government was late in releasing the population count, in November 2021, Virginia had no option but to move forward with elections in the old districts.

Paul Goldman v. Robert Brink is the legal case about whether there should be a fresh election for the Virginia House of Delegates this November using the new district maps.  According to a March 21, 2022 article in the Virginia Mercury, “Goldman, a former aide to ex-Gov. Doug Wilder and onetime chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, filed the lawsuit last summer. [June 2021] He contends the state’s delayed redistricting process should require another round of House elections this year on new maps that properly reflect the state’s population shifts. All 100 House seats are up for election again in 2023, but Goldman argues incumbents shouldn’t be allowed to serve full, two-year terms based on old districts with dramatically different population sizes that conflict with the principle that all votes should count equally.” . . . “With nearly a quarter of 2022 gone, the federal courts have not yet issued a ruling on the pivotal question of whether Goldman has standing to bring the case as a Virginia voter and prospective House candidate.  Questions of standing typically involve debate over whether a plaintiff can credibly claim to have been harmed by the target of a lawsuit.”

The Goldman case was heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th District on March 6, 2022. Arguments were livestreamed (audio only). Courthouse News (March 8) reported “Fourth Circuit hear arguments in case challenging Virginia House of Delegates elections.”  The three judges (King, Wynn, and Rushing) sent the case back to the U.S. Eastern District Court of Virginia (Judge David J. Novak) to determine “standing.”

On March 21, Judge Novak heard from the parties (there was no live feed).  The Judge gave the two sides until mid-April to file new briefs addressing the standing issue, including whether it should be heard by Novak alone or a three-judge panel also involved in the case. 

Several voting-rights groups, including the Virginia League of Women Voters, the Virginia NAACP,  and the ACLU of Virginia offered statements of support for holding elections for the Virginia House of Delegates this year. RealRadio804 reported on the groups that are offering support.

The LWV-VA statement of February 23, 2022 urged “Now that we have fair maps, it’s time to hold elections.” 

There are also concerns about whether the case could be decided in time for November elections.  Courthouse News (March 5) reported that Del. Marcus Simon (McLean) “has been aware of the issue since it was first brought up early last year. If the courts do force 2022 races, he said it would have to happen quickly. Beyond incumbents finding new places to live, there’s signature collection requirements to get on the ballot, primaries, absentee voting deadlines and all the work the state’s Election Board must do before a race could happen this year. ‘You could compress those times frames with a court order, but we’d need to know by June; July 1 would be the absolute latest,’ he hypothesized.”


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