Virginia Supreme Court rejects GOP's slate of redistricting experts, citing conflicts of interest

The Virginia Supreme Court, which recently took over the redistricting process after the state's new redistricting commission failed to produce any maps, has ordered Republicans to submit a new slate of proposed experts to assist the court in drawing new districts, disqualifying one pick due to a conflict of interest and casting doubt on the other two. Under Virginia law, the court must appoint two such experts, known in legal parlance as special masters. However, the justices specifically rejected the nomination of Thomas Bryan, who the Virginia Senate GOP caucus had paid $20,000 in consulting fees in September—a fact Republicans failed to disclose in putting forth Bryan's name and was only highlighted publicly in a letter that Democratic Sen. Dick Saslaw sent to the court just days ago. The justices further said they have unspecified "concerns" about the GOP's two other candidates, both of whom are also partisan Republican operatives, and told Republicans to provide a new set of proposals by Monday. Democrats, by contrast, suggested three nonpartisan professors who are well-known in the field and have served as court-appointed experts in past redistricting cases. The court did, however, order Democrats to come up with one substitution, saying that one unnamed person on their list "has asserted a condition or reservation" indicating he might not be willing to work in tandem with whomever the justices choose as the second special master.

Virginia Supreme Court rejects GOP's slate of redistricting experts, citing conflicts of interest

The Virginia Supreme Court, which recently took over the redistricting process after the state's new redistricting commission failed to produce any maps, has ordered Republicans to submit a new slate of proposed experts to assist the court in drawing new districts, disqualifying one pick due to a conflict of interest and casting doubt on the other two.

Under Virginia law, the court must appoint two such experts, known in legal parlance as special masters. However, the justices specifically rejected the nomination of Thomas Bryan, who the Virginia Senate GOP caucus had paid $20,000 in consulting fees in September—a fact Republicans failed to disclose in putting forth Bryan's name and was only highlighted publicly in a letter that Democratic Sen. Dick Saslaw sent to the court just days ago. The justices further said they have unspecified "concerns" about the GOP's two other candidates, both of whom are also partisan Republican operatives, and told Republicans to provide a new set of proposals by Monday.

Democrats, by contrast, suggested three nonpartisan professors who are well-known in the field and have served as court-appointed experts in past redistricting cases. The court did, however, order Democrats to come up with one substitution, saying that one unnamed person on their list "has asserted a condition or reservation" indicating he might not be willing to work in tandem with whomever the justices choose as the second special master.