Court rejects motion to dismiss Virginia remap suit

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A court is refusing to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the General Assembly's authority to redraw its congressional districts a year late.

Six plaintiffs sued, challenging the new, Republican-authored U.S. House reapportionment bill that was rushed through a GOP-dominated General Assembly last week.

Gov. Bob McDonnell signed it into law unannounced on Tuesday night, after the court had ruled. His office never announced the official act, and confirmed it only in response to reporters' questions Wednesday.

The court's decision Tuesday casts uncertainty on the development of congressional campaigns, particularly for challengers, who now must wait for definitive districts to be put in place ahead of primary elections scheduled for June 5.

The Richmond Circuit Court decision held that the state Constitution is clear and emphatic in directing that the legislature shall redraw state and federal legislative boundaries in the year 2011 and every 10 years thereafter.

It ruled that using the word "shall" was mandatory and binding, not discretionary and "not designed for metaphysical or logical subtleties, for niceties of expression, for critical propriety, for elaborate shades of meaning, or for the exercise of philosophical acuteness or judicial research."

"What they've (legislative Republicans) done here is devalue the state Constitution. When what it says doesn't suit them, they just thumb their nose at it," said Del. Joseph Morrissey, D-Henrico.

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