A federal court overturned Maryland’s congressional map, saying in a ruling Wednesday that the plan violated the rights of Republican voters by drawing lines designed to minimize their political power.
A three-judge panel said the 2011 map must be redrawn before the 2020 elections.
It was the latest federal court ruling to find a state’s attempt at politically gerrymandering was so extreme that it violated the Constitution.
In this case, the judges said state Democrats went too far when they carved roughly 66,000 GOP voters out of Maryland’s 6th Congressional District and added roughly 24,000 Democratic voters in.
The judges said the Democrats’ attempt to slice and dice the district was “the single greatest alteration of voter makeup in any district in the nation following the 2010 census.”
Prior to the change, the district was considered “Solid Republican” but after the 2011 map was enacted, it became “Likely Democratic.” The district elected a Democrat again in Tuesday’s elections.
“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,” wrote Judge Paul V. Niemeyer for the court.
Maryland’s Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, himself just reelected for a second term, applauded the ruling Wednesday.
“We remain steadfastly committed to moving forward in an open and transparent manner that is free of the partisan influence that has dominated the redistricting process in Maryland for far too long. It’s past time for Marylanders to choose their representatives instead of politicians choosing their constituents, and today’s ruling is a major step in that direction,” Mr. Hogan said in a press release.
The Supreme Court, thus far, has sidestepped ruling on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering.