Maryland Appeals Gerrymandering Case to Supreme Court

(CN) – Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh on Thursday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a lower court ruling that voided the state’s congressional voting map and ordered officials to redraw the lines prior to the 2020 election.

Last week, a three-judge panel sitting in the federal court in Maryland held the state’s current district map — the one used in this year’s midterm election —  was tainted by partisan gerrymandering.

The decision stemmed from a challenge by several Republican voters who live in the state’s 6th congressional district and claimed state officials unfairly redrew the boundaries of their district in 2011 to favor Democrats.

On review, U.S. Circuit Judge Paul Niemeyer, Chief U.S. District Judge James Bredar and U.S. District George Russell concluded what they deemed a “dramatic redrawing” of the district after the last census roundly disfavored Republican voters.

The judges ordered state officials to redraw the map by March 7 or relinquish control of redistricting to a separate committee which would develop the map in time for the 2020 election.

Frosh, a Democrat, is seeking emergency injunctive relief that would put the order on hold until the Supreme Court can weigh in on the matter.

He argues the court’s guidance would “ensure that, even if [the U.S. District Court in Maryland] order is affirmed, state lawmakers do not redraw Maryland’s electoral map for 2020 using a standard that is not the one ultimately adopted by the Supreme Court.”

It would also avoid “potentially contradictory results or needless expenditure of public resources,” the filing states.

This isn’t the first time the case has come before the Supreme Court – it was reviewed earlier this year, but was remanded back to the Maryland court last June.

The Supreme Court isn’t obligated to hold oral arguments on the matter and could decide to issue a decision on Maryland’s redistricting plan when it decides a separate gerrymandering case out of North Carolina.

In that case, congressional district lines are being challenged on the basis of their favoring Republicans over Democrats.

Frosh’s challenge to the ruling in Maryland may set a showdown in motion with Maryland’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan.

Governor Hogan could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

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