Maryland Will Fight For Pro-Democrat Gerrymander In The Supreme Court
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court after a three-judge panel found state officials violated the Constitution by drawing congressional district lines that advantaged Democrats.
The Maryland case, which will reach the high court as a separate partisan gerrymandering challenge from North Carolina, is pending before the justices.
“I do look forward to defending what I think is a very strong decision by the district court,” Michael Kimberly, an attorney for the Republican plaintiffs, told The Baltimore Sun.
The case involves a challenge to the composition of Maryland’s 6th District, once a Republican bastion encompassing the rural western reaches of the state. After the 2010 census, Democrats managing the redistricting process added tens of thousands of voters from Washington, D.C.’s left-leaning suburbs to the district, in a professed bid to oust the longtime incumbent, GOP Rep. Roscoe Bartlett.
The effort was successful, and the seat remains safely ensconced in Democratic hands. (RELATED: Trump Taps Indian Daughter Of Immigrants For Kavanaugh’s Seat On The D.C. Circuit)
A three-judge panel called that maneuver unlawful on Nov. 7, and ordered the state to draw new lines for the 6th and 8th congressional districts before the 2020 election.
While appealing to the Supreme Court, Maryland also asked the three-judge panel to temporarily stay their decision until the justices decide how to proceed.
The Maryland request notes the three-judge panel advanced two different First Amendment theories as to why gerrymandering is unconstitutional. Meanwhile, judges in the North Carolina case relied on other parts of the Constitution, including the 14th Amendment’s equal protection guarantee, to strike down gerrymanders benefiting Republicans. Therefore, the Maryland attorney general says the court should stay its order so the Supreme Court can apply a uniform legal standard.
“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,” Maryland’s motion reads.
The Supreme Court may ultimately dodge the issue altogether, as it did during the 2017 term when the justices sent a pair of gerrymandering controversies — including the Maryland case — back to lower courts for procedural and jurisdictional reasons, rather than issuing a sweeping new decision pronouncing gerrymanders unconstitutional.
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