Skip to comments.Three-Judge U.S. District Court Strikes Down Maryland U.S. House District Boundaries
Posted on 11/07/2018 11:48:29 AM PST by TBP
On November 7, a 3-judge U.S. District Court struck down the boundaries of Marylands Sixth U.S. House District. Benisek v Lamone, 1:13cv-3233. Here is the opinion, which was written by U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Paul Niemeyer, a Bush Sr. appointee. Niemeyer wrote that partisan gerrymandering violates representational rights and associational rights. U.S. District Court Judge James Bredar, an Obama appointee, agreed that the boundaries violate associational rights, although he did not agree they violate reprsentation rights. U.S. District Court Judge George Russell, another Obama appointee, agreed that the district violates both types of First Amendment rights, although he agreed with Judge Bredar that using election returns is not a proper way to adjudicate these cases.
Democrats gerrymandered the Sixth District in 2011, flipping it from a safe Republican seat to a seat that has elected a Democrat ever since the new boundaries were in effect. The opinion sets out all the evidence that Democrats in the Maryland legislature fully intended to create this outcome. The Sixth District had traditionally comprised western Maryland, but the 2011 redistricting inserted Democratic-leaning suburbs of Washington, D.C. Thanks to Rick Hasen for this news.
If Maryland appeals, it will be to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the meantime, the state is ordered to draws new boundaries before the 2020 election.
For now, the state should just adopt the alternate plan proposed by the Fannie Lou Hamer PAC and the Maryland GOP.
I believe the dims can override the Governors veto. That is why Hogan cannot do much.
There are only two things that are worse than a Legislative engineered gerrymander, that would be a “non-partisan” commission engineered gerrymander or a judicial engineered gerrymander. Redistricting is a function of elected representatives. If the voters don’t like it, they can get rid of the elected representatives. They can’t get rid of some commission and certainly not from judges.
Baker v. Carr (1962) was a landmark scotus case that decided that redistricting issues present justiciable questions, thus enabling federal courts to intervene in and to decide redistricting cases. The defendants unsuccessfully argued that redistricting of legislative districts was a political question, and hence not a question that may be resolved by federal courts.
Tennessee had not adjusted district lines since 1901. By the 1950s, some rural districts had one tenth the population of growing urban districts. Nonetheless, TN argued that the composition of legislative districts was a political question, not a judicial one, as had been held by Colegrove v. Green, in which Justice Frankfurter warned that Courts ought not to enter this political thicket. Frankfurter believed that relief for legislative malapportionment had to be won through the political process.
Frankfurter, joined by Justice John Marshall Harlan II, dissented in Baker, arguing that the Court had cast aside history and judicial restraint, and violated the separation of powers between legislatures and Courts. He wrote: Appellants invoke the right to vote and to have their votes counted. But they are permitted to vote and their votes are counted. They go to the polls, they cast their ballots, they send their representatives to the state councils. Their complaint is simply that the representatives are not sufficiently numerous or powerful. The court reversed a uniform train of cases going back to the 1840s. One of the cases, Colgrove v. Green, was only sixteen years in the past.
Great Britain had it’s same issue with the so called “rotten boroughs” that had not been adjusted since the Industrial Age. Requiring Congressional Districts to be approximately of the same population is mandated by the Constitution. Allowing a judge to nudge a single boundary line is giving them a power that they should not have.
<>Requiring Congressional Districts to be approximately of the same population is mandated by the Constitution.<>
Not in the US Constitution.
True, the Constitution doesn’t even mention districts, but the Constitution does apportion representatives by total population using an equal number, except that each state must have at least one representative regardless of population.
The requirement to do periodical reapportionment was brought about with the Supreme Court ruling Wesberry v. Sanders, which was decided on February 17, 1964.
Ironically, despite the fact that redistricting is more burdensome for covered jurisdictions, it was voters from Georgia a covered jurisdiction that were responsible for the change.
Wesberry was brought by, as mentioned, citizens and qualified voters of Fulton County, Georgia, then completely encompassed by Georgias Fifth Congressional District.
These citizens felt that they were deprived of voting rights because of disproportionate population sizes of Congressional districts established by statute 33 years earlier.
Just how disproportionate are we talking?
According to the 1960 census, the average population of Georgias ten districts (at the time, Georgia only had ten) was 394,312, and the district with the smallest population, the Ninth, had only 272,154 people.
The Fifth district, by contrast, had 823,680 people.
Since there is only one Congressman for each district, the voters argued, this population inequality meant that the Fifth Districts Congressman had to represent two to three times as many people as did Congressmen from other Georgia districts.
This, therefore, meant that a vote from each person in the Fifth district only carried half or a third as much weight as a vote in other Georgia districts, which the Fifth district voters claimed was discriminatory.
The Supreme Court agreed.
In doing so, it relied on Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which requires that representatives shall be chosen by the People of the several States and shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective Numbers
I don’t know how to provide for equal representation without designing equal population sized districts, but if someone knows how to do that, it might be Constitutional. The real point is that I think that the courts are expanding the language and the meaning of the Constitutional to say that every individual has the right to a representative who shares his ethnicity, ideology, TV viewing preferences, etc.
This is great news! Finally some equal justice. Now do Illinois.
Rats have a super-majority in the the leg though (unless we gained which I have no idea of) so they can override any veto by Hogan, so he’s no help. The Governor may have some role in proposing maps, I don’t know may just be that the rat leg allowed O’Malley to be involved.
Maryland leg is terrible, weird multi-member districts, 4 year terms.
But the leg must comply with the court. If they don’t do enough to satisfy the court the court will impose a map, which might be our best bet. Maybe we can do a deal, give us back the 6th and we won’t complain about the rest. An ideal map could give a third seat.
Ben Jealous campaigned on gerrymandering out Andy Harris, I admire his ethics.
In Ne wYork several years ago, the legislature dew a 101-sided district. (I admit, I admire their skill; you try creating a district with 101 sides.) The court threw it out, and the replacement district “only” had 87 sides.
U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Paul Niemeyer, a Bush Sr. appointee... U.S. District Court Judge James Bredar, an Obama appointee... U.S. District Court Judge George Russell, another Obama appointee... Democrats gerrymandered the Sixth District in 2011, flipping it from a safe Republican seat to a seat that has elected a Democrat ever since the new boundaries were in effect. The opinion sets out all the evidence that Democrats in the Maryland legislature fully intended to create this outcome.
Will Hogan run for a third term? Any chance he will run for US Senator?
hard to figure which states these highlighted districts are in. Are they current?
i believe so, came from WAPO
mid-top is FL, bot-lt is MD
but they are ALL RAT...
The MD congressional map is an outrageous gerrymander, but I see nothing unconstitutional about it. The U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures the task of drawing congressional district lines (Ginsburg, with Kennedy’s support, rules that voter-approved redistricting commissions were “the legislature,” but hopefully that noxious precedent will be overturned soon), and if *politics* can’t be taken into account by a political branch, I don’t know in what world judges think we’re living. If the MD AG appeals to SCOTUS, this will be overturned, and thus save pro-GOP maps in many other states.
BTW, an ideal map of MD would give us 4 GOP seats, and it wouldn’t look like such a horrible gerrymander.
Unfortunately, he can’t run for a third term. He’s term limited. Hopefully, Lt. Gov. Rutherford is strong enough to continue the run.
I think Hogan really made a name for himself during the Baltimore riots. He sent the National Guard and quelled the riots very effectively. The people noticed. He had campaign ads with blacks from Baltimore talking about how he had handed it (and supporting him.) Very effective.
I don’t know about the Senate; you’re the first one who’s brought it up. He’s 62, a cancer survivor, and he really doesn’t seem to like politics. But he might be persuaded that he’s the one republican who could beat VanHollen or Cardin.
In “Laurel” (Greater Laurel), three counties come together: Prince George’s, Anne Arundel, and Howard. the city of Laurel is in PG. The Anne Arundel part of Laurel is called Maryland Cith. the Howard part is North Laurel.
Laurel, Maryland City, and North Laurel, which may as well be won town, are in three different Congressional districts.
MD to DC is not an bad as travelling from the Mid West or the West Coast.
If it were 4 wouldn’t a couple of them have to be pretty marginal? We can’t rely on Baltimore county, or Howard.
There were 4 at one time, but at least one was RINO through and through.
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