Delegate Tony McConkey's Official Blog

Supreme Court To Hear Maryland Gerrymandering Case


Republicans will finally get their day in court, The Supreme Court, March 28, 2018, to argue their case that the drawing of congressional districts by former Governor Martin O’Malley was so blatantly partisan as to render the districts unconstitutional.

Jun 24, 2018 – Gerrymandering Lives For Another Day – Fred
Mar 25, 2018 – Opinion: Time For Supreme Court To Limit Gerrymandering – MR
Feb 26, 2018 – Lawmakers Again Ponder Hogan’s Redistricting Proposal – DR
Feb 6, 2018 – What Does The PA Redistricting Case Mean For Maryland? – Sun
Jan 29, 2018 – Hogan Signs On To Support Challenge Of Redistricting Map – Sun
Supreme Court Sets Date To Hear Maryland Gerrymandering Case

By Daily Record

The Supreme Court will hear arguments March 28 on whether Maryland’s Democrat-led General Assembly unconstitutionally redrew a congressional district to replace a Republican U.S. representative with a Democratic one.

The court released its oral arguments schedule for March on Wednesday. A decision in O. John Benisek et al. v. Linda H. Lamone et al., No. 17-333, is expected by the summer.

Republicans claim the 6th Congressional District violates the First Amendment right of GOP voters to political association because the legislature deliberately redrew the district to ensure the election of a Democrat and in “retaliation” for the district having elected a Republican.

Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, a Democrat, has argued in papers filed with the justices that the Republicans cannot show that the General Assembly penalized GOP voters because of their voting record.

Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said last week that he intends to join a brief urging the justices to strike down the district as unconstitutionally drawn.

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Governor Hogan Introduces Legislation To Eliminate Gerrymandering in Maryland

Proposes Nonpartisan Redistricting Apportionment Commission, Constitutional Amendment

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Larry Hogan today introduced legislation that will reform Maryland’s broken redistricting process and put the state on a new path toward fair representation, election integrity, and transparency. Based on recommendations from the governor’s bipartisan Redistricting Reform Commission, the administration is proposing a nonpartisan Apportionment Commission to replace the existing, governor-led redistricting process.

“An overwhelming majority of Marylanders favor an independent, nonpartisan panel for redistricting over the existing biased process,” said Governor Hogan. “For too long, fair elections and a healthy, strong, and competitive two-party system have been nearly impossible in our state. This is about recognizing a problem and choosing to do the right thing to solve it.”

Maryland’s congressional districts have been widely recognized as some of the most gerrymandered districts in the country, and Governor Hogan has remained outspoken in his commitment to redistricting reform. Last year, he established a bipartisan Redistricting Reform Commission, which diligently studied the issue and the states that have adopted independent, nonpartisan redistricting commissions, and therefore greatly reducing the politics and partisanship that comes with redistricting. The Commission also held five public hearings across the state and received input from hundreds of Marylanders on the need for redistricting reform and ideas on how to implement a more fair and transparent system.

Today’s legislation is based on recommendations from that Commission and moves Maryland one step closer towards real and lasting reform. Governor Hogan is proposing a constitutional amendment that would repeal existing provisions relating to the redistricting process, and instead create the General Assembly and Congressional Legislative Redistricting Apportionment Commission. Following the decennial census of the United States, this nonpartisan commission would be tasked with dividing the state into legislative and congressional districts, in accordance with state and federal constitutional provisions. This independent process would result in more election districts being based on population, compactness, and natural boundaries, as opposed to politics and partisanship.


Hogan Will Enter Gerrymandering Fight At The Supreme Court, Pursue State Legislation Again

By Frederick News Post

Gov. Larry Hogan will support the plaintiffs who are challenging Maryland’s congressional district map at the U.S. Supreme Court.

ANNAPOLIS — The Frederick County plaintiffs challenging Maryland’s congressional district map at the U.S. Supreme Court have found a new ally in a pair of governors.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced Thursday that he would file an amicus brief — co-signed by former California Gov. Gray Davis (D) — in support of the plaintiffs.

The Supreme Court agreed last month to hear the Maryland case, which alleges unconstitutional suppression of Republican voters in the 6th District, on the heels of hearing a Wisconsin case that alleged partisan gerrymandering to harm Democrats.

While Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) and the legislative leaders who participated in the redistricting process are defendants in the court case, Hogan said they would find themselves on the wrong side of history and are already out of step with the majority of Marylanders who support a push for nonpartisan redistricting.

“I fully and proudly stand with the people of Maryland in supporting this case and in pushing redistricting reforms at every level all across the country,” Hogan said.

He’s seeking bipartisan support from other current and former governors for the Supreme Court brief.

“Of course, Maryland is not the only offender when it comes to gerrymandering and no party has a monopoly on this practice,” Hogan said.

Also on Thursday, Hogan said he would again introduce a bill to create a nonpartisan commission to draw congressional district boundaries.

He reiterated his opposition to a bill passed last year that was heralded as State House Democrats’ bipartisan and farther-reaching solution to the problem of gerrymandering. The so-called Mid-Atlantic Compact would have Maryland and five other states move forward with a bipartisan redistricting process together. Hogan vetoed the measure in May, and lawmakers have pushed a possible veto override vote on the measure to the end of this legislative session.

On the six-state solution, Hogan said “instead of choosing fairness and real nonpartisan reform, instead they pushed through a phony bill masquerading as redistricting reform. It was nothing more than a political ploy, designed with one purpose: to ensure that real redistricting reform would never happen in Maryland. In fact, their legislation would prohibit us from fixing our state’s horrendous gerrymandering problem, unless and until five other states act first.”

Hogan will introduce his bill next week.

“There’s still time for us to work together in a bipartisan way to once and for all clean up the political process in our state,” Hogan said.

A spokeswoman from Frosh’s office responded to the governor’s comments Thursday evening.

“The attorney general is constitutionally required to defend the state in this case. When a state law is challenged, the attorney general must defend state law. It’s not a choice, it’s required,” Raquel Coombs wrote in an email. “The Governor should know that.”

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 brief is expected to be filed with the Supreme Court in the next few weeks, but the text will not be available until it’s filed, Hogan’s office said. The governor’s office said the brief is being written at no cost by the law firm ReedSmith.

Groups such as the Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause and the Campaign Legal Center have filed briefs supporting the Maryland plaintiffs, who include three Frederick County residents, in the past.

Asked Thursday whether Hogan would continue to support nonpartisan redistricting if he’s re-elected — and would thus drive the map-writing process after the 2020 census — Hogan said “it makes sense for us to do this in a nonpartisan way, regardless of who the governor is or what party’s in power.”

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