Mary­land re­dis­trict­ing re­form shouldn’t wait for the court

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION - Join the de­bate at wash­ing­ton­post.com/local-opin­ions

Re­gard­ing the Jan. 5 news ar­ti­cle “Court to take up N.C., Md. ger­ry­man­der­ing cases”:

The Supreme Court hav­ing agreed to hear the ger­ry­man­der­ing case af­fect­ing Mary­land’s 6th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict, state leg­is­la­tors now in­di­cate that re­dis­trict­ing re­form will not be con­sid­ered by the Mary­land Gen­eral Assem­bly be­fore there is a court de­ci­sion. As demon­strated by a se­ries of polls run by Goucher Col­lege be­tween 2015 and 2017, an over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of Mary­lan­ders want the current re­dis­trict­ing process to be re­placed by one that is con­ducted by an in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion. Isn’t that suf­fi­cient rea­son to con­sider re­form leg­is­la­tion dur­ing the current Gen­eral Assem­bly’s ses­sion?

Vot­ers in other states were able to place re­dis­trict­ing re­form mea­sures on the ballot in 2018, and these mea­sures were ap­proved. In Mary­land, the Demo­cratic po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment is tak­ing ad­van­tage of the fact that the state con­sti­tu­tion does not al­low cit­i­zen ini­tia­tives to ini­ti­ate re­form.

For Mary­land to have a vot­ing rights case in front of the Supreme Court is a dis­grace; us­ing this case to avoid ac­tion on mean­ing­ful re­form would be rep­re­hen­si­ble. Mary­land’s elected of­fi­cials should work on pass­ing mean­ing­ful re­form leg­is­la­tion — not a pre­pos­ter­ous mul­ti­state com­pact — in this ses­sion, re­gard­less of what the court may de­cide about the 6th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict’s map. Other states have al­ready taken ac­tion on re­form; why should Mary­land have to wait?

Steve Daubresse,

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