Hogan’s executive order establishes a commission comprising the following appointees by the governor: one registered Democrat, one Republican and one person not registered with either of the major parties. The commission also would include another six members selected from a public application process: two Democrats, two Republicans and two more unaffiliated members.
The members cannot be congressmen or candidates. They cannot be employed by a political party or committee. They may not serve on the staff of the governor, the General Assembly or Congress. Current and former lobbyists also will not be considered.
“The selection of members shall be intended to produce a Commission that is independent from legislative influence and reasonably representative of the State’s diversity and geography,” the executive order states.
According to Monday’s release, Hogan also plans to introduce a redistricting reform act when the next 90-day General Assembly session opens in January. This will be the fourth time he has submitted the bill, which state legislators did not bring to a vote in his previous three attempts, the release states.
“The people of Maryland and the federal courts agree that the time for our state to act is now to finally restore balance and fairness to our elections, to once and for all remove the politics and the politicians from the process of drawing their own districts,” Hogan said Monday. “This legislation provides for a nonpartisan redistricting commission and the result will be a fair, nonpartisan, open, and transparent redistricting process for all legislative and congressional districts.”
Niemeyer’s opinion discusses how Maryland has constitutional requirements for redistricting its General Assembly legislative districts, requiring that they “consist of adjoining territory, be compact in form, and of substantially equal population,” with additional consideration given to “natural boundaries and the boundaries of political subdivisions,” such as county and municipal lines.
Niemeyer wrote that in the absence of a law regulating congressional redistricting, the state generally follows the procedures for the General Assembly legislative districts. He wrote that while those procedures were used following the 2010 Census, the process did not include considerations for “contiguity, compactness, regard for natural boundaries, and regard for boundaries of political subdivisions.”
Three years ago, Hogan issued an order establishing a Redistricting Reform Commission to complete a “comprehensive examination of ideas that could enhance the integrity of Maryland’s congressional and legislative redistricting processes” and to recommend a constitutional amendment on redistricting.
U.S. District Court Judge Alexander Williams; Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the CATO Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies; and League of Women Voters administrator Ashley Oleson served as the co-chairmen of the Redistricting Reform Commission.
On Monday, Hogan announced their appointments as co-chairmen of the new Emergency Commission on Sixth Congressional District Gerrymandering, with Williams as the Democrat, Olson the Republican and Oleson as the unaffiliated member.
Those interested in applying for the open seats on the commission are encouraged to visit governor. mar yland.gov/free-and-fair. ballot measures this month calling for nonpartisan redistricting commissions.
“Maryland should be leading, but so far we aren’t even following,” Hogan said. “The fight for fairness, transparency, and bipartisanship in our state is not just a typical fight between the right and the left — it’s more important than that — it is a fight between right and wrong, and it is a fight worth fighting.”
In his motion, Frosh wrote that the Supreme Court is expected to address gerrymandering during the current term.
“Any further guidance from the Supreme Court will be important to ensure that, even if this Court’s order is affirmed, state lawmakers do not redraw Maryland’s electoral map for 2020 using a standard that is not the one ultimately adopted by the Supreme Court. Moreover, this Court’s order may be reversed, either because the Supreme Court finds partisan gerrymandering to be nonjusticiable or because the Supreme Court approves a different test for partisan gerrymandering claims, which Maryland’s map may or may not satisfy,” Frosh wrote.
Frosh wrote that the deadline to have a new map in hand for the 2020 election is Oct. 19, 2019, while the Supreme Court’s current term ends June 24, 2019.
“If the Supreme Court affirms this Court’s final judgment, upon issuance of the Supreme Court’s decision, defendants agree to begin immediately drafting a new map and simultaneously to negotiate in good faith with plaintiffs to reach a mutually agreed revised schedule for arriving at a new map, in the same form as the procedure established by the Court’s final judgment,” Frosh wrote.