Politico reports that a Democrat-appointed judge has rejected Democrats’ efforts to redraw the congressional district map, calling it “unconstitutional,” and an effort to “subvert the will of the governed.”
The Democratic-controlled legislature passed the new map over Republican Governor Larry Hogan’s veto, but Judge Lynne Battaglia ordered them to draw a new map and hold a hearing by April 1.
“The limitation of the undue extension of power by any branch of government must be exercised to ensure that the will of the people is heard, no matter under which political placard those governing reside,” she wrote. “The 2021 Congressional Plan is unconstitutional, and subverts the will of those governed.”
Politico thought the ruling would be appealed, which wouldn’t be ruled on before April 1 when the hearing would be held.
The ruling is said to be a confirmation that a Maryland state law deals with partisan gerrymandering, which the Attorney General’s Office has denied.
“Not only did the judge rule in favor of our plaintiffs, but she confirmed that there is Maryland state law that applies to partisan gerrymandering, something the Attorney General’s office vigorously argued against,” the anti-gerrymandering group that brought the suit said in an unsigned statement. “This would be massive news in its own right but combined with a favorable ruling, it’s a political earthquake.”
The Court of Appeals has already moved the election from June to July as part of the anti-gerrymandering case, which would line up with a decision in favor of forcing a redrawing of the map.
Republicans aren’t doing well with redistricting ahead of a pivotal midterm election season, having lost several challenges to both Democrat-drawn maps and their own.
Seizing political gain
Democrats have been accused of “leveraging an activist judiciary to seize political gain,” and Republicans are worried that more lax voting restrictions will give Democrats an advantage.
Low Democratic polling numbers may give the GOP an advantage in this election cycle, but make it harder for Republicans to win or keep a majority in future elections when the pendulum swings in a different direction.
Over 30 House Democrats have announced retirements this year, and Republicans are widely expected to gain seats and retake majorities, possibly in both chambers.
Poorly done redistricting could cut into Republicans’ expected gains, but is unlikely to derail them enough to make a significant difference this year.