Republican Voters Challenging Maryland’s Partisan Gerrymander Deserve Their Day in Court
Case Could Help Determine a Workable Legal Standard for All Future Partisan Gerrymander Cases
A group of Republican voters challenging the state’s 2011 congressional redistricting plan as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander should have their day in court, the Campaign Legal Center today argued in a friend-of-the-court-brief filed in the U.S. District Court for the District Court of Maryland.
“Legislators – across the political spectrum – are increasingly abusing the redistricting process as a powerful weapon in modern political warfare to create rigged elections,” said Gerry Hebert, executive director of the Campaign Legal Center. “The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that extreme partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional and has kept its doors open to hearing these cases, though the Court has yet to announce a standard for deciding these claims. In allowing this case to go to trial, the parties could develop evidence and attempt to develop a workable standard for deciding future partisan gerrymandering challenges in courts across the country.”
The voters in this case, Shapiro v. McManus, argue that Maryland’s map violates their First Amendment rights because it purposefully diminished their voting power as Republican voters on the basis of their political affiliation and their voting histories. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 9-0 decision, reversed two lower court opinions dismissing the challenge. The case was remanded and is now once again before the district court.
“Americans are increasingly frustrated at our broken democratic process that cheats them of their ability to elect representatives of their choice,” said Danielle Lang, legal fellow with the Campaign Legal Center. “Recent studies show a significant uptick in the extremity of partisan gerrymanders. Americans want and deserve fair elections. The need to develop a meaningful and manageable partisan gerrymandering standard is becoming increasingly dire to preserve the public confidence in our democracy.”