Not to get too far ahead of the game, but I wanted to know just what would happen if the General Assembly and the governor didn't agree on a redistricting plan. Or, even if they do, what if the Justice Department refuses to preclear it? Or what if there’s a successful court challenge? What happens then?
The short answer is that someone will file suit in a Virginia federal court and a three-judge panel will hear the case. If the court follows Cosner v. Dalton, a similar redistricting case from 1981, the November elections would proceed under whatever plan is then in place, whether it’s a new plan or no plan at all, pending a trial on the merits. If the plaintiffs win, the court, as a remedial measure, would enter an order requiring new elections with the amended, court-approved redistricting plan, which likely would be drafted by the legislature.
Let's just hope it doesn't come to that.