Watching a legislative body set up new legislative districts in conformity to new Census date is a sight to behold. The main concern is not to be fair or to set up districts with compatible interest, or any other positive motive; the concern is self-preservation and self-preservation alone.
In 1982, the Virginia House of Delegates finally got around to this unholy activity. Prior to 1982, the Virginia House was divided into multi-member districts, where one District would be composed of several counties and/or cities that would be represented by a number of different Delegates.
For example, my district was composed of Hanover, Caroline and Stafford Counties plus the City of Fredericksburg. This district elected two (2) Delegates.
My home county was Hanover and it is located north of Richmond, in the center of the state. Due to its location, Hanover was an easy target for movement from one District to another in proposed new Districts. Before it was all over, Hanover was proposed to be included in 21 different districts.
The final proposal, which I as a new Member has little control over, placed Hanover in a four (4) member district with an adjoining county which was five times larger tan Hanover.
I concluded immediately that this proposed district was to Hanover’s clear detriment. As the Reapportionment Bill advanced I decided that I would fight it in the only way available to me – by filibustering it.
When the bill made its way to the floor I rose to speak on the bill. I spoke for over four (4) hours against the bill. I spoke on the bill’s merits, as well as reading from the local phone book and from history books about Hanover County, which was Patrick Henry’s home county. When my filibuster was challenged as not being germane, the Speaker who was from Henry County ruled that Patrick Henry would always be germane as long as he was Speaker.
My colleagues tried every trick to stop my speaking – including bringing me glasses of water in the hope that Mother Nature would aid their cause. Eventually I stopped speaking – I felt I had made my point. The next day the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported on my heroics on the front page!
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