Federal judges in gerrymandering case toss Maryland's congressional voting map - Washington Post

Federal judges in Maryland on Wednesday blocked the elections in future elections, ordering political leaders to draw new electoral lines for contests in 2020.

The three-judge panel unanimously threw out the congressional folder in a long-running partisan gerrymandering case. The decision is to submit a new redistricting plan.

The judges are responsible for the redistricting process, but the boundaries are unconstitutional and intentionally designed for the Republican voters in the 6th Congressional District because of their political affiliation.

"When political considerations are assigned to an extreme, the public perpetuates an abuse of the democratic process," Judge Paul V. Niemeyer of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. He was joined by U.S. District Judge George L. Russell III.

Chief U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar wrote a separate opinion agreeing with the overall judgment and declaring partisan gerrymandering "noxious, a cancer on our democracy."

If the state is unable to meet the deadline for creating a new map, the court's order establishes a commission that will create a map of its own.

The Wednesday ruling can be appealed to the Supreme Court, which in June is a unconstitutional in the Maryland case and in another map case from Wisconsin.

The office of Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D), which defended the map, said that it is reviewing its options. Legislative leaders declined to comment on the court's order.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who won reelection Tuesday, called the decision "a victory for the vast majority of Marylanders who want free and fair elections."

"We remain steadfastly committed to moving forward in an open and transparent manner that has been dominated by the redistricting process in Maryland for far too long," said Hogan, who has pushed for a constitutional amendment. redistricting commission redraw boundaries.

At the core of the issue is the 6th District in Western Maryland, which was redrawn in 2011 to include parts of heavily Democratic Montgomery County. Democratic map makers moved hundreds of thousands or voters from Western Maryland to the 6th District and added Democrats from Montgomery.

The lawsuit was brought by seven Republican voters who were in the 6th District before the boundaries were reset.

In its ruling Wednesday, the three-judge panel declared the district unconstitutional and found that the influence of GOP voters by replacing them with Democrats in violation of the First Amendment to political association.

"The massive and unnecessary reshuffling of the Sixth District, involving one-half of its population and dictated by party affiliation and voting history, had no other cause. a Democratic one, Niemeyer wrote in his 59-page opinion.

The court ruling came a day after Democrat David Trone defeated Republican Amie Hoeber by a wide margin in that district, in what was considered the most competitive or Maryland's House contests.

In a deposition in the case, former governor Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, was blunt about the partisan map making he oversaw, saying Democratic leaders intentionally redrew the districts to their party an advantage.

"Yesterday's results confirm what we've been saying all along. The 6th District is not really competitive for Republicans, "said attorney Michael B. Kimberly, who represents the group of Maryland Republicans.

The ruling rejected the Democratic leaders in the 6th District more competitive.

"It's impossible to flip a seat to the Democrats without flipping it from the Republicans," Niemeyer wrote. "There is no doubt that at all stages of the process, the State's Democratic officials who put the 2011 redistricting plan into place, will be on the control of the Sixth District from Republic to Democrats and then acted on that intent."

The ruling is in congress as a whole in 2011, but the challengers have proposed that the districts can not be changed.

Before the ruling Wednesday, state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) cast on the capitol Hill.

"To put that into play without all of those states, Miller said.