New Chicago Ward Map Affirmed by 7th Circuit

     CHICAGO (CN) - Upholding the constitutionality of Chicago's ward redistricting plan, the 7th Circuit sideline objections that the new ward boundaries prejudice independent aldermen.
     Chicago's City Council approved a redistricting plan for the redrawing of ward boundaries in 2012.
     Census records from 2010 show that 2.6 million people live in Chicago, putting 53,912 people in each of the city's 50 aldermanic wards.
     Scheduled to take effect in 2015, the new map drew a legal challenge by the League of Women Voters and 14 Chicago citizens.
     Citing a deviation in average population per ward of up to 8.7 percent, they claimed the figure was too high and violated their equal protection rights. They also challenged the map politically discriminatory against independent aldermen.
     The 7th Circuit affirmed that the new ward map is constitutional on Wednesday.
     "The Supreme Court has held that a maximum population deviation greater than ten percent 'creates a prima facie case of discrimination and therefore must be justified by the state,'" Judge Michael Kanne wrote for a three-member panel. "But when a maximum deviation is less than ten percent, the deviation is considered minor and the plaintiffs cannot 'establish a violation of the equal protection clause from population variations alone.'"
     Claiming that certain alderman "were at the short end of the proverbial stick" is also not enough to hold the plan unconstitutional, the court found, especially given the inherently political process of redrawing ward boundaries.
     "Whether certain wards appear to be 'bizarre or uncouth,' as the League alleges, is not enough to establish a prima facie case for an equal protection violation," Kanne wrote.