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Tipsheet

SCOTUS Considers Whether Maryland Dems Used Gerrymandering to Their Advantage

Gov. Larry Hogan hopes that today will be the day the Supreme Court starts to put an end to the "partisan gerrymandering" in his state.

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At issue in Benisek vs. Lamone is whether Democrats changed district lines in Maryland in 2011 to beat a GOP congressman. Hogan signed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the Republican plaintiffs.

But Democrats are the ones under the court’s microscope in the Maryland case, which centers on a unique legal theory: That, in tweaking the borders of a western Maryland-based congressional district, the Democratic-controlled Legislature and then-Gov. Martin O’Malley were punishing voters for supporting Republicans in the past, including then-GOP Rep. Roscoe Bartlett. That punishment, the plaintiff’s theory says, amounts to a violation of their First Amendment rights.

“The map drawers and Democratic leaders in Annapolis in 2010 and 2011 looked at the way voters had cast their ballots in the 6th District in the years before redistricting and in effect disapproved that,” said Michael Kimberly, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the case. (Politico)

If the trend continues, 2020 "could be a wave election for Democrats," according to Michael Li, a redistricting expert at the Brennan Center in New York.

Gerrymandering has also been a hot topic in the state of Pennsylvania this year, where the redistricting maps again appear to favor Democrats. The state Supreme Court drew the new maps and, despite an emergency appeal from Republicans, who claimed the court overstepped its authority, the maps were upheld by the Supreme Court. 

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The Washington Examiner's Tim Carney published an opinion piece last month explaining the absurdity of the Maryland maps being considered at the Supreme Court today. Garrett County, he notes, has little to nothing in common with Bethesda. Yet, they find themselves in the same congressional district. It is an "abomination."

Then you have Maryland's third congressional district, which is so screwy that is has been given the nickname "praying mantis."

The ruling in the Maryland case is expected to come in June.

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