Report urges denial of legislative redistricting challenges -- Gazette.Net


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A special report prepared for the Maryland Court of Appeals recommends that the court deny several legal challenges to the state’s new legislative district map.

A hearing on the recommendations, made at the court’s request by retired Judge Alan M. Wilner, is scheduled for Nov. 7.

Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) submitted the new map, which adjusts the boundaries for the state’s delegate and Senate districts based on the most recent census data, to the General Assembly in January. Lawmakers took no action, and the map automatically became law in February.

Several challenges to the map were filed, of which three remain unresolved.

One, filed by Baltimore County Sens. Delores G. Kelley (D-Dist. 10) of Randallstown and James Brochin (D-Dist. 42) of Towson, argued that the map provided for six legislative districts in Baltimore city but the city’s population only requires five and that extending District 44 from the city into Baltimore County — by taking precincts from District 10 — was unnecessary.

Another argued that the state legislature should be organized according to the scheme laid out for the U.S. Congress in the U.S. Constitution, with two senators from each county and all delegates elected from single-member districts that could not cross county lines.

The final challenge argued that the new map violated the federal Voting Rights Act by not giving enough seats to majority-black districts.

Wilner found each challenge to be without merit and recommended that they be denied.

Brochin said Friday that he still felt he and Kelley had a valid case.

“Fortunately, we have a hearing before the Court of Appeals [Nov. 7],” he said, adding that because Baltimore city districts were underpopulated, there was no reason to take precincts from Baltimore County.

“It’s about whether the [state] constitution trumps politics,” Brochin said.

dleaderman@gazette.net