Chicago Sun-Times

Legislativ­e redistrict­ing plan faces second legal challenge

- BY RACHEL HINTON, POLITICAL REPORTER rhinton@suntimes.com | @rrhinton

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educationa­l Fund has sued to block the use of a redistrict­ing plan passed by the General Assembly because it is based on population estimates rather than an actual count.

The federal lawsuit, the second legal challenge to the plan signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, contends the redistrict­ing plan is unconstitu­tional.

The suit, filed Thursday on behalf of five registered voters, says the plan violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment because Democrats used figures from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to draw new legislativ­e boundaries rather than wait for data from the decennial census, which isn’t expected to be released until later this summer.

“ACS data is not adequate to ensure the constituti­onal guarantee of one-person-onevote,” Francisco Fernandez-del Castillo, an attorney for the legal defense fund, said in a statement. “Using the ACS estimates to draw district boundaries puts all Illinois voters — especially those in traditiona­lly underrepre­sented communitie­s, such as Latinos — at risk of being disenfranc­hised.”

Earlier this week, Republican­s filed suit against Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, Senate President Don Harmon and state election officials over the new legislativ­e maps, also alleging they are unconstitu­tional because the maps aren’t based on actual Census Bureau population counts.

In their suit, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie say the General Assembly passed its redistrict­ing proposal “despite lacking the official population counts from the census.”

Like the Republican suit, the legal defense fund requests a three-judge panel to hear the case. Federal law dictates that a three-judge panel oversee cases when the constituti­onality of a redistrict­ing plan for a statewide legislativ­e body comes under scrutiny, according to Cornell Law School’s Legal Informatio­n Institute.

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