Law School Case Brief
Va. House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill - 139 S. Ct. 1945 (2019)
The Virginia House of Delegates lacks authority to displace Virginia’s Attorney General as representative of the State. The House, as a single chamber of a bicameral legislature, has no standing to appeal the invalidation of a voter redistricting plan separately from the State of which it is a part.
The Virginia House of Delegates intervened as defendants in a case filed by voters who questioned the redistricting plan charging that the redrawn districts were racially gerrymandered in violation of the Fourth Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause. The district court held that 11 of the districts were unconstitutionally drawn. The Virginia’s Attorney General did not appeal but the Virginia House of Delegates decided to pursue an appeal.
In a case in which voters alleged unconstitutional gerrymandering, does the Virginia House of Delegates possess standing and authority to represent the interest of the State in a voter redistricting plan, specifically in its passage of a statute that made Virginia’s Attorney General the State's representative in civil litigation?
The Supreme Court of the United States dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The Court held that the Virginia House of Delegates lacked the authority to displace Virginia's Attorney General as representative of the State where, in enacting Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-507(A) (2017), Virginia clearly made the Attorney General the State's sole representative in civil litigation. Even assuming that Virginia had authorized the House to represent the State's interest, as a factual matter, the House had never indicated in the district court that it was appearing in that capacity.
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