Stamford Advocate

Democrats face new hurdles in legal fight over redistrict­ing


The fight over redrawing political maps is just ramping up in state legislatur­es and nonpartisa­n commission­s around the country. But both Republican­s and Democrats already are planning for major showdowns in the courts.

For months, Democrats and Republican­s have been laying the groundwork for a complex, 50-state legal battle over the oncea-decade process of redistrict­ing. Both parties are preparing for a changed legal climate - where federal courts are newly hostile to claims of unconstitu­tional partisan gerrymande­ring and state courts could create a patchwork of rulings. And it will all play out in a tightened timeframe, thanks to pandemic-related delays.

Experts say that adds up a challengin­g landscape for Democrats, who have in the past won major court victories by proving Republican­s deliberate­ly used maps to disenfranc­hise Democratic voters. Some are predicting far fewer dramatic court interventi­ons, despite plans for a more aggressive strategy.

“There will be a lot of litigation, but in a lot of ways the tools will be less sharp than they used to be,” said Michael Li of the Brennan Center for Social Justice in New York City.

Democrats began filing preemptive lawsuits in April, well ahead of last week’s release of the Census’ detailed population data used to draw the lines for Congress, statehouse­s and school districts around the country. Still, the most significan­t lawsuits are yet to come, and probably won’t be filed until states begin to produce maps over the next few months.

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