Gerrymander Claims Out of Maryland Head to High Court

WASHINGTON (CN) – A high-profile political gerrymandering case from Maryland is one of seven new cases the Supreme Court took up late Friday.

O. John Benisek is the lead plaintiff in the underlying challenge, which says state lawmakers redrew the lines of the 6th Congressional District in Western Maryland to  disadvantage Republicans.

After the district lines were redrawn to include parts of heavily Democratic Montgomery County, Republican Roscoe Bartlett in 2013 had to give up the office he held for 20 years to Democratic challenger John Delaney.

The Supreme Court took up Benisek’s case Friday just two months after hearing oral argument in the unrelated gerrymandering challenge Gill v. Whitford.

While the latter case involves gerrymandering claims against Wisconsin Republicans, it is the first partisan gerrymandering case to go before the Supreme Court in a decade.

Awaiting the resolution of Gill v. Whitford, a three-judge panel in Maryland ruled 2-1 this past August to stay Benisek’s case, leaving the challenged map in place for the 2018 election.

Benisek asked the Supreme Court to weigh in, and the Supreme Court agreed Friday.

Per its custom, the court did not otherwise comment on the case. The court issued another order list Monday but did not take up any new cases.

Benisek is represented by Mayer Brown attorney Michael Kimberly.

Maryland is represented by Steven Sullivan for the state Attorney General’s Office.

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