PARKERSBURG - Local state lawmakers were pleased with the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold West Virginia's congressional redistricting plan.
On Tuesday, the court ruled to reverse a lower federal ruling that struck down the plan because of the population differences among the state's three congressional districts.
The high court said the West Virginia plan easily passes muster and the population variations are too small to trigger constitutional concerns about the principle of one person, one vote.
Del. Bill Anderson, R-8th, was pleased with the ruling.
"The Supreme Court showed respect to the West Virginia Legislature and the work that was done," he said.
The Legislature approved the redistricting plan during the summer of 2011 by nearly unanimous and bipartisan margins. The plan shifts Mason County from the 2nd District to the 3rd District and left the 1st District untouched.
After a lawsuit was brought by county officials in the Eastern Panhandle, a panel of three federal judges ruled, in a 2-1 decision, the Legislature's plan violated the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause because the state's three congressional districts aren't as equal in population as they should have been.
However, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the judges' decision at the time and the districts would stay as they were approved by the Legislature to allow candidates to file for office and run in last May's primary and this November's general election.
Since the state did not gain or lose any Congressional seats, lawmakers worked hard to ensure the least amount of disruption to constituents statewide, Anderson said.
"Our plan met all the needed guidelines," he said.
Del. John Ellem, R-10th, believed the challenge from the Eastern Panhandle stemmed from a desire to create its own congressional district. However, the court's ruling showed lawmakers had good reasons for making the choices they did and not disenchanting voters with radical district changes, Ellem said.
"I was very pleased," he said of the ruling.
State Senator David Nohe, R-Wood, said he believed everything they did in formulating the original plan was proper. Although the plan did not impact Wood County directly, Nohe said he never saw the arguments others tried to make saying it was unconstitutional.
"I am glad it was upheld and that it is valid," he said. "Now we can get on with business."
State Senator Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, said lawmakers made a simple switch, moving one county from one district to another which resulted in a population deviation of only 0.79 percent across the three districts.
"I am glad this was upheld," she said.
The case is expected to go back to the three-judge panel, but Boley did not see any serious problems arising from that with the U.S. Supreme Court's current ruling.
"I think we are good until 2020," she said of the next census and redistricting consideration.
Del. Anna Border, R-9th, said there were plans originally being considered with the potential for counties to be split up and for two of the incumbents running for the U.S. House of Representatives to be put in the same district. The plan approved was very simple and to the point.
"This plan did not split any counties up or put any incumbents running against each other in the same district," she said.
The redistricting plan was one of the first things Border worked on last year after being named to fill the seat of her late husband, Larry Border.
"This plan showed a lot of common sense thought and I was glad to see (the Supreme Court) uphold that," she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.