Mary­land or­dered to re­draw 2020 con­gres­sional map.

Judges: Po­lit­i­cal power of GOP vot­ers min­i­mized

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY ALEX SWOYER

Fed­eral judges on Wed­nes­day or­dered Mary­land of­fi­cials to re­draw the state’s map of con­gres­sional dis­tricts, rul­ing that the map vi­o­lates the rights of Repub­li­can vot­ers by min­i­miz­ing their po­lit­i­cal power.

A three-judge panel of U.S. Dis­trict Court said the 2011 map must be re­drawn be­fore the 2020 elec­tions.

It was the lat­est fed­eral court rul­ing to find a state’s po­lit­i­cal ger­ry­man­der­ing so ex­treme that it vi­o­lates the Con­sti­tu­tion.

In this case, sev­eral Repub­li­can vot­ers sued over the bound­aries of the 6th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict.

The judges said that Mary­land Democrats went too far when they carved 66,000 Repub­li­can vot­ers out of the dis­trict and added 24,000 Demo­cratic vot­ers.

The judges said the Democrats’ slic­ing and dic­ing of the 6th Dis­trict was “the sin­gle great­est al­ter­ation of voter makeup in any dis­trict in the na­tion fol­low­ing the 2010 cen­sus.”

Be­fore the change, the dis­trict had been con­sid­ered “solid Repub­li­can,” and the state had at least two GOP rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Af­ter the 2011 map was adopted, it be­came “likely Demo­cratic,” and the state has had only one GOP rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

The west­ern Mary­land dis­trict again elected a Demo­crat in Tues­day’s elec­tions.

“The state specif­i­cally in­tended to di­min­ish the value of those tar­geted cit­i­zens’ votes by re­mov­ing a sub­stan­tial num­ber of them from the Sixth Dis­trict and re­plac­ing them with Demo­cratic vot­ers for the pur­pose of deny­ing, as a prac­ti­cal mat­ter, the tar­geted vot­ers the op­por­tu­nity to elect the can­di­date of their choice,” Judge Paul V. Niemeyer wrote for the court.

Repub­li­can Gov. Larry Hogan, who won re-elec­tion Tues­day, ap­plauded the rul­ing Wed­nes­day.

“We re­main stead­fastly com­mit­ted to mov­ing for­ward in an open and trans­par­ent man­ner that is free of the par­ti­san in­flu­ence that has dom­i­nated the re­dis­trict­ing process in Mary­land for far too long. It’s past time for Mary­lan­ders to choose their rep­re­sen­ta­tives in­stead of politi­cians choos­ing their con­stituents, and to­day’s rul­ing is a ma­jor step in that di­rec­tion,” Mr. Hogan said in a press re­lease.

Re­dis­trict­ing maps are drawn by the gov­er­nor and ap­proved by the state’s Gen­eral Assem­bly, which cur­rently is con­trolled by Democrats.

The U.S. Supreme Court re­viewed the case be­fore de­cid­ing in June to re­fer it back to the lower court for a de­ci­sion, ef­fec­tively al­low­ing the 2011 map to re­main in place for Tues­day’s con­gres­sional elec­tions.

The Supreme Court could take up the is­sue of par­ti­san ger­ry­man­der­ing again this term, in a case from North Carolina. Repub­li­cans in North Carolina have urged the jus­tices to rule that courts should stay out of dis­putes about the po­lit­i­cal process.

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