People Must Choose Their Representatives, Not the Other Way Around
What would you call a politician who filed a lawsuit, arguing that new districts were unfair to his re-election chances because it had too many Black people in it?
Hold that thought.
Six years ago, my opponent filed a lawsuit and took it all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Incumbent Republican Rob Wittman, who had then done even less to bring you broadband than he has lately, argued that new districts hurt his re-election chances. More specifically, his district had too many Black people in it.
Today he’s lying to you on a related topic. He’s trying to convince you that I oppose fair redistricting. Meanwhile, back in reality, I support HB 1255, which bans gerrymandering.
To date, I have not seen his support of this bill that bans gerrymandering.
But let’s talk about his record and the lawsuit in which he sought to decrease the number of Black people in his district.
In 2014, the Supreme Court Found Virginia’s Congressional Maps Unconstitutional:
The following is from The Washington Post, dated 10/7/14: “A panel of federal judges declared Virginia’s congressional maps unconstitutional because they concentrate African American voters into a single district at the expense of their influence elsewhere.”
Why was the plan unconstitutional?
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia concluded that “race was the predominant factor” in congressional maps that “concentrate[d] African American voters into a single district at the expense of their influence elsewhere.”
So knowing this, what did Rob Wittman do?
In June 2015, Wittman and other Republican legislators appealed the case to the Supreme Court [Wittman v. Personhuballah, Jurisdictional Statement, Filed 6/22/15]. Wittman argued that his election chances would be harmed by redistricting that included more Black voters.
But it gets even worse.
Wittman argued, “Although the racial gerrymandering ruling by the district court had applied only to District 3, all of the Republican challengers contended that any plan other than the 2012 maps would jeopardize their election chances.” [Scotusblog, 5/23/16]
In other words, it wasn’t Rob Wittman who didn’t want more Black people in that district, it was all Republicans elected officials who were party to that latsuit, and so they sued collectively to gerrymander Black voters out of their districts.
Much to Wittman’s joy in November 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. SCOTUS explained their reason to take the case
Washington Post, 11/13/15: “The U.S. Supreme Court said Friday that it will review whether Virginia lawmakers improperly packed minority voters into one congressional district at the expense of their influence elsewhere in the state.”
So what happened when Wittman took his lawsuit to the Supreme Court to exclude Black voters from his district?
Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/7/16: Well, in January 2016, before SCOTUS could rule, “a three-judge panel in Richmond, VA drew new districts, which imposed a new Virginia congressional map that could give Black voters a chance to elect candidates of their choice in two districts, not just one.”
Wittman must’ve been upset, but he had faith SCOTUS would protect him from Black voters. SCOTUS ruled in Feb 2016. How’d it go for Wittman?
In February of 2016: the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that none of the GOP challengers had the right to sue because they could not show that they would be harmed politically.
In other words, #SCOTUS ruled 9–0 that Wittman does not have the right to exclude Black voters from his district.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who wrote the six-page opinion for a unanimous Court, said that the Justices had pored over the record in the case, and could not find evidence that Wittman would suffer adversely at the polls under the plan devised by the district court for use this election year.” [Scotusblog, 5/23/16; Wittman v. Personhuballah, 5/23/16]
So now, as we approach election day 2020, Wittman is putting out false and misleading videos claiming I oppose gerrymandering reform.
Not only is he lying, but he’s hoping you don’t know he took a lawsuit all the way to SCOTUS to exclude Black voters.
So in closing, I ask again, what do you call a politician who filed a lawsuit, arguing that new districts were unfair to his re-election chances because it had too many Black people in it?
You call him Rob Wittman.
I’m a human rights lawyer. I’ve fought for racial justice my entire life. Wittman is a career politician who sued on the taxpayer’s dime to exclude Black voters.
I hope to have your vote so we can restore equal justice for all Americans and form the more perfect union to which our Constitution calls us to strive.
Donate, share, and let’s win with compassion and justice. Let’s win together.