Va. GOP leaders vow to defend disputed districts, rebuff McAuliffe's nonpartisan plea

Virginia Capitol (ABC7 file photo)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Republican leaders in the Virginia House of Delegates are rebuffing a request from the governor to drop their legal defense of legislative districts Democrats say are unconstitutionally gerrymandered.

House Speaker William Howell, Majority Leader Kirk Cox and finance chairman Chris Jones told reporters Thursday they're confident in the 11 districts that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a day earlier must be re-examined.

After the Wednesday ruling, Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe sent a letter to Howell and Cox asking them to settle the lawsuit. He said the ruling set the stage for "protracted litigation" at taxpayers' expense and wants a nonpartisan panel to draw new lines.

But Howell says the case is "far from over." He doesn't think it will effect elections this fall, when every House seat is up for grabs.

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