January 25, 2012 - 2:37 pm

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

On the same day a Richmond Circuit Court judge struck down a motion to dismiss a lawsuit that would have the courts draw new congressional districts for the state, Gov. Bob McDonnell signed the Republican redistricting plan passed by the legislature last week.

“After reviewing the legislation, and consulting with the Attorney General’s office, the governor has signed the bill,” said Tucker Martin, a spokesman for the governor, adding that the bill was signed Tuesday night.

That was just hours after Judge Richard D. Taylor Jr. denied a motion from the attorney general’s office to toss the lawsuit, filed on behalf of Virginia voters.

The suit argues that the legislature failed to meet its constitutional responsibility by failing to pass a redistricting plan last year and the matter should be handled by the courts.

A similar suit is pending in U.S. District Court.

After sailing through the House, the Senate on Friday passed the legislation on a 20-19 vote along party lines with Democrats arguing that the plan disenfranchises African-Americans by packing too many of them into one of the 11 congressional districts.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on Wednesday responded to Taylor’s ruling.

"Given the impending elections and deadlines associated with the federal Voting Rights Act, my office is seeking immediate intervention by the Supreme Court of Virginia," said Cuccinelli. "We are filing a writ of prohibition, seeking a ruling that the circuit court’s ruling exceeds its jurisdiction. We are also seeking an immediate appeal of the order and a stay of further proceedings in the circuit court until the Virginia Supreme Court has ruled."