Congressional map

A panel of federal judges ruled last week to throw out partisan gerrymandered congressional maps in Maryland. The state will use new maps for the 2020 election, the court ruled.

The U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear a Maryland gerrymandering claim at the same time as a similar challenge from Wisconsin.

The court issued an order Wednesday denying the motion of Republican plaintiffs to have their case before the court at the same time as Democratic plaintiffs from Wisconsin.

In U.S. District Court, the plaintiffs — who include three Republican voters from Frederick County — argued that the redrawn districts amount to an unconstitutional violation of their First Amendment right to free speech.

The case arrived at the Supreme Court after two U.S. District Court judges denied 6th District voters’ request for a preliminary injunction to require a new map before the 2018 election. The judges also decided to place a hold on the case until the Supreme Court considered the Wisconsin case.

In their appeal to the Supreme Court, the Maryland plaintiffs asked the justices to set oral arguments in both state cases in November. Attorneys for the state of Maryland, who are defending the congressional district map, argued against the speedy hearing at the country’s top court.

The Maryland and Wisconsin cases are similar on their face, but there are some important differences. The Maryland case challenges the redrawing of a single federal district, the 6th, to favor Democrats, while the Wisconsin case is based on the statewide redrawing of the Wisconsin State Assembly districts to favor Republicans.

The two cases also allege different violations of voters’ rights under the First Amendment.

The plaintiffs’ attorney had argued that hearing both cases at the same time would show the justices that the issue of gerrymandering is not exclusive to one political party.

In the last redistricting, which took effect in 2012, Frederick County was split as part of a shift that made the 6th District more Democratic.

The Democratic-oriented city of Frederick is part of the reworked 6th District, which also picked up part of heavily Democratic Montgomery County. Other parts of Frederick County moved to the 8th District.

The Frederick County residents who joined the U.S. District Court complaint are registered Republican voters who once lived in the 6th District but are now in the 8th District.

They argue that voters in the 6th District would have been able to elect a Republican representative in 2012 and 2014, but did not because of the change in the district’s boundaries. Republican Roscoe Bartlett won the district in the previous 10 congressional elections but was defeated in 2012 by Democrat John Delaney, who is now in his third term.

Follow Danielle E. Gaines on Twitter: @danielleegaines.

Danielle E. Gaines covers politics and government in Frederick County, splitting her time between Winchester Hall and The State House. Having grown up in Illinois, she lived in New York and California before settling in Maryland.

(8) comments

jerseygrl42

Just one example of the ugliness omalley left behind

elmweeks

So I always thought of the Democratic party as the institution we could count on to walk the moral high ground. Who cares if the Republicans did it 18 times ... "we are better than that" is how I believe President Obama would put it. It was wrong. Northern Frederick County should not have been written in with Potomac and Takoma Park. It was done to ensure Barlett's loss, regardless of whether or not he would have won. Jamie Raskin does not represent most of the people in northern Frederick County. I wanted Bartlett out! ... but not this way.

DickD

Bartlett is not the issue here - as far as the court is concerned. The issue is one person, one vote and if the courts rule on this it will have to be applied uniformly across the U.S.

shiftless88

Bartlett was going to lose no matter what. Roscoe was past his "sell by" date.

benedictus

Plenty of congressmen who are past their prime keep getting elected. Remember Robert Byrd?

thirteen

The FNP reported at the time that Roscoe Bartlett had lost the 2012 election in the old 6th as well. If this was indeed the case, then there's no dots in the connect-the-dots last paragraph of this story.

benedictus

I tried looking for such a story, but couldn't find it. How would they know? Did they poll people in areas that ceased to be part of the old 6th? Did they rely on the party those people voted for? Or did they just ignore them?

DickD

There are something like 19 states with severe gerrymandering, 18 are Republican. So, if we are going to take the power to set district boundaries from the states, they should all be changed, not just the one Democrat one - Maryland. And if you want to argue one person one vote, let's take that argument to the fullest and get rid of the electoral college.

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