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A Maryland judge has ruled the new congressional map unconstitutional

ANAPOLIS, MD – A judge from Maryland ruled on Friday that the new map of the State Congress is unconstitutional, the first map drawn by the Democrats, which was removed by the court in this cycle of rearrangement.

So far, courts have intervened to block cards they have identified as Republican parties in North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, angering Republicans and leading Conservatives to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to limit the power of state courts to overturn state cards. composed by state legislatures.

Judge Lynn Battali issued the ruling after a trial last week in which Republicans claimed that a Maryland congressional map approved by the General Assembly in December violated the constitution by outlining areas in favor of Democrats who control the legislature.

“Restrictions on the illegal expansion of power by any branch of government must be implemented to ensure that the will of the people is heard, no matter what political poster the rulers are under. “The congressional plan for 2021 is unconstitutional and undermines the will of those in power.”

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The judge added that it “introduced a decision in favor of the plaintiffs to reject the card and” constantly orders its action and allows the General Assembly to develop a new plan of Congress, which is constitutional. “

The battle has a long history in the Maryland judiciary. She served as a member of the state’s Supreme Court from 2001 to 2016. She was a U.S. attorney for Maryland from 1993 to 2001. She also served as chief of staff to former Maryland senator Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat since 1991. until 1993

An appeal by the state is almost certain. Raquel Coombs, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General, said the service was reviewing the decision.

In Maryland, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1 and Democrats have a strong majority in both houses of the legislature, the Republican Party has long criticized the map as one of the fastest in the nation.

“Judge Batalia’s decision confirms what we’ve all known for years – Maryland is zero for gerrymandering, our districts and political reality smell like it, and there’s plenty of evidence that it’s happening,” said Doug Mayer, a spokeswoman for Fair Maps Maryland. . “Marylanders have been fighting for free and fair elections for decades, and for the first time in the shameful history of our state of gerrymandering, we are on the brink of ending it.”

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The decision comes in the unusual circumstances that Maryland has a Republican governor in a year of reassignment. Gov. Larry Hogan, who has long sought reform in the way the state delineates political boundaries, has set up a separate commission to map out seats in Congress and state legislatures in hopes of removing politicians from the process of delineating constituencies.

Hogan presented the maps to the General Assembly, but the legislature went ahead with maps approved by a separate committee that included senior legislative leadership, including four Democrats and two Republicans.

Hogan vetoed the card approved by the legislature in December, saying it was a “mockery of our democracy.” On the same day, the legislature overturned the veto. Following the judge’s ruling, the governor called on lawmakers to approve the card presented by the committee he supports.

“I call on the General Assembly to immediately adopt the Commission’s independent redistribution cards, which are written with accountability and transparency,” Hogan said in a statement. “This is a historic cornerstone in our struggle to clear the political process in our country, and to ensure that the voices of the people we have chosen to serve will finally be heard.”

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If the case goes to the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, all but one acting judge will be appointed by Hogan.

Last week, Chief Justice Joseph Getty postponed the state’s primary election from June 28th to July 19th as courts assess challenges to the state’s new legislative map, as well as the congressional map.

During the trial last week, a Republican witness in Maryland testified that party considerations prevailed when Democrats drew the map. Democrats currently have a 7-1 lead over the Republican Party in the eight seats in the State House. The new map made the area held by single Republican Andy Harris more competitive for a potential Democrat victory.

Sean Trend, an election analyst at RealClearPolitics, testified as a Republican witness last week that Democrats “almost certainly have seven counties and have a great chance of winning that eighth district.”

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The trial involved two lawsuits. One was brought by a group of Republican lawmakers backed by Fair Maps Maryland. The other was brought by the national conservative activist group Judicial Watch.

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Nicholas Ricardi contributed from Denver.

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

A Maryland judge has ruled the new congressional map unconstitutional

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