A Maryland judge has revoked House district maps drawn to unfairly favor Democrats.
The Hill reports:
In a 94-page ruling, Judge Lynne Battaglia ruled in favor of Republican groups, including one backed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R), and voters who said their voices were being shut out. Two lawsuits, condensed into a single case, cited a 1972 amendment to the state constitution that requires compact districts and orders legislators to consider natural boundaries and political subdivisions.
The General Assembly was ordered to draw new congressional district maps that obey the state constitution.
“[P]opular sovereignty is the paramount consideration in a republican, democratic government. The limitation of the undue extension of power by any branch of government must be exercised to ensure that the will of the people is heard, no matter under which political placard those governing reside,” Battaglia wrote. “The map legislative Democrats passed “subverts that will of those governed.”
Democrats control supermajorities of both the House of Delegates and the state Senate. They used those majorities to draw new district lines that would have given their party an edge in all eight of the state’s congressional districts, adding thousands of new Democratic voters in Anne Arundel County to an Eastern Shore district currently held by Rep. Andy Harris (D).
Gov. Hogan-backed group, Fair Maps Maryland, praised the ruling as a major win for the Republican Party.
“Judge Battaglia’s ruling confirms what we have all known for years — Maryland is ground zero for gerrymandering, our districts and political reality reek of it, and there is abundant proof that it is occurring,” the group said in a statement. “Marylanders have been fighting for free and fair elections for decades and for the first time in our state’s shameful history of gerrymandering, we are at the precipice of ending it.”
It’s likely Democrats will appeal the ruling, and a final decision will come from the state Court of Appeals, which is Maryland’s equivalent of a Supreme Court.