Maryland Redistricting Case

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.

3 thoughts on “Maryland Redistricting Case”

  1. This is good.

    It’s funny though. One reason I never tried to be on the civilian redistricting panel they put on in my state (CA) is that I still don’t really understand how boundaries should be drawn. Should we put similar-thinking people all together, so they can elect themselves and express themselves, or mix them up to promote moderation? I believe here where I live, they went with moderation. And I think it has had some marginal effect. Well, though it is essentially washed away in a sea of blue, too.

    Between residential segregation and the need to be able to talk to each other, I am not sure what I think yet. I still think one of these rich eccentrics we’ve got running around should just buy a lot of copies of the WSJ and just airdrop them. At least we might be able to talk to each other.

  2. So where is this decision now law? Just Maryland? Because that’s about as clear a decision against gerrymandering as you could ask, and at the federal level. At some point not too far off the supreme court will be in a cleft stick.

  3. If this decision was simply the first sentence of the post here, it would be a sensible decision. But look into the gerrymandering and the result and you’ll see how totally stupid it is.

    The Maryland Sixth elected a Dem representative by a vote of 142,652 to 97,330. That’s a difference of 45,326. I don’t care how brilliant your gerrymandering model is, you can’t draw lines to exclude ONLY Republicans. In an overwhelmingly Dem state, there are bound to be a few Dems on any city block you look at. So you’re going to need at least 60 thousand voters to redistribute to overcome that 45 thousand lead. And look around the state, at all those other overwhelmingly Dem districts, and try to figure out which contiguous area the judges thought they could find an extra 60 thousand voters, to include 46 thousand Republicans, that should have been left in the Sixth.

    Just ridiculous.

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