A three-judge U.S. District Court panel has dismissed with prejudice Paul Goldman’s lawsuit to force new House of Delegates elections in 2022. The Office of the Attorney General had argued that Goldman does not have standing, and the court agreed.
2020 U.S. Census data was delayed, delaying redistricting and forcing 2021 House elections to be held on old lines. Before the election in September 2021, Goldman sued, arguing that population shifts meant that some people would be under-represented, and argued for holding House elections again in 2022. Goldman didn’t gain much outside support and faced opposition from both former Attorney General Mark Herring and current Attorney General Jason Miyares.
Goldman never gained significant support from politicians in either party. Although he launched the lawsuit in September 2021, the long court process means that even if the court had sided with him, it would be difficult to hold new elections now, with the next regular elections scheduled for 2023.
Under old lines, District 87 is under-represented and had a population of 130,192 in the 2020 census, while the least populated district, District 75, is over-represented and had 67,404 people. But Goldman isn’t from an under-represented district, a key piece of Miyares’ office’s argument that the court agreed with, finding that Goldman isn’t harmed by the election being held under old lines.
In its opinion, the court said the ideal population for a district is 86,314, and Goldman’s district had 85,344 in the most recent census.
“Plaintiff’s District, therefore, contained approximately 1.12 percent fewer people than the ideal at the time of the 2021 general election. Simply put, Plaintiff benefited from overrepresentation during the November 2021 election for the House of Delegates,” the court wrote.
In a Monday press release, Miyares said, “The 2021 Virginia elections were legal and constitutional. Record numbers of Virginians went to the polls to vote and had their voices heard. I’m glad that the court agreed with my office, that there is no more uncertainty for voters and legislators, and that we were able to protect the sanctity of our 2021 elections.”
Goldman told ABC8 reporter Dean Mirsahi that he’s considering an appeal and said in a statement, “While I have great respect for the Judiciary, the ruling in effect slashes the right to equal representation in the state legislature as required by the one-person, one-vote principle far worse than any case issued in the last 58 years.”
“But apparently, when no other persons were allowed to exercise their right to file to intervene, the die had been cast and the important constitutional issues remain unresolved,” Goldman said.