Judge rules Md. redistricting challenge should go forward

Monday, November 21st, 2011

By Aaron C. Davis, Washington Post

A group of African Americans seeking to overturn Maryland’s congressional map on grounds that Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and the state legislature racially gerrymandered lines to help elect Democrats won an initial victory in court Monday.

U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus rebuffed an argument to dismiss the case from Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) and sided with the group that a three-judge panel should be seated to hear the case.

Titus said he would immediately notify the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The chief judge could still decide not to grant a three-judge panel, but the development suggested the state may have to fully justify its map before the court.

Read more at the Washington Post

Opponents of new congressional redistricting win first round in lawsuit

Monday, November 21st, 2011

By Glynis Kazanjian, Maryland Reporter

The federal judge overseeing the first round of legal arguments on the lawsuit challenging Maryland’s congressional redistricting quickly ruled Monday against the state’s motion to dismiss and assigned the case to a three-judge panel.

U.S. District Court Judge Roger W. Titus of Greenbelt ruled that he disagreed with the state’s argument that the suit should be dismissed because it was without merit.

“The Court finds that the Complaint’s constitutional claims are substantial and that the convening of a three-judge court is appropriate,” Titus stated in Monday’s opinion.

Titus also ruled that there was no legal precedence in the 4th Circuit, which includes Maryland, to give a single district judge the authority to make such a determination, as the state argued.

Read more at the Maryland Reporter

Iowa group to fund suit against Maryland’s congressional map

Friday, November 11th, 2011

By Annie Linskey, The Baltimore Sun

An Iowa-based foundation is financing a federal lawsuit that seeks to overturn Maryland’s new congressional map on the grounds that it unconstitutionally splits minority communities.

Christopher Rants, a Republican former speaker of the Iowa House who heads the Legacy Foundation, confirmed that the group is paying for the legal challenge, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.

“When I saw the maps, I was just incredulous,” Rants said in a telephone interview. “We don’t do things like that out here.”

The foundation — which has previously defended Arizona’s contentious immigration law — was created to “advance individual liberty, free enterprise and limited, accountable government,” according its website.

The lawsuit, organized by a Prince George’s County political action committee, alleges that Gov. Martin O’Malley and the Democratic controlled General Assembly drew congressional districts that broke apart black neighborhoods to benefit white Democratic candidates.

Read More at the Baltimore Sun

Ex-Supreme Court justice calls Md. redistricting ‘outrageously unconstitutional’

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is calling Maryland’s recent congressional redistricting “outrageously unconstitutional,” and says that his inability to persuade the other justices to overturn partisan gerrymandering like it was “one of my major disappointments in my entire career.”

Stevens, 91, who retired last year after almost 35 years on the court, said the Supreme Court’s “failure to act in this area is one of the things that has contributed to the much greater partisanship in legislative bodies now that wasn’t true years ago.”

Stevens was interviewed for SCOTUSBlog by a former court clerk about the justice’s new book “Five Chiefs.” The interview was published Thursday, and ProPublica reported on his gerrymandering comments Monday.

Deep in the long interview, the former clerk, Stanford University law professor Jeffrey Fisher, asked Stevens: “how you would envision the Court getting involved in something as crass and divisive as partisan gerrymandering while maintaining the public perception of political independence.

Stevens responded, “Well it goes back to the fundamental equal protection principle that government has the duty to be impartial. When it’s engaged in districting, it should be impartial.

Read more at the Maryland Reporter

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