Today, a three-judge panel in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland held that the manner in which the boundaries of Maryland’s Sixth Congressional District were drawn was unconstitutional. The case is Benisek v. Lamone. The Court ordered that the boundaries be redrawn in time for the 2020 congressional election.
The plaintiffs argued:
[T]hat in enacting the 2011 law [establishing the district’s boundaries], the State deliberately diluted [the plaintiffs’] votes and burdened their associational interests based on their party affiliation and voting history, in violation of their First Amendment rights.
The Court found that:
- The State specifically targeted voters in the Sixth Congressional District who were registered as Republicans and who had historically voted for Republican candidates.
- The State specifically intended to diminish the value of those targeted citizens’ votes by removing a substantial number of them from the Sixth District and replacing them with Democratic voters for the purpose of denying, as a practical matter, the targeted voters the opportunity to elect the candidate of their choice.
- The State gave effect to its intent by, on net, removing about 66,000 Republican voters from the Sixth District and adding 24,000 Democratic voters in their place.
- The State meaningfully burdened the targeted Republican voters’ representational rights by substantially diminishing their ability to elect their candidate of choice.
- The State also burdened the Republican voters’ right of association, as demonstrated by voter confusion, diminished participation in Republican organizational efforts in the Sixth District, and diminished Republican participation in voting, as well as decreased Republican fundraising.
- These injuries were the direct result of the State’s purpose to convert the Sixth District from a solid Republican district to a Democratic district.