Maryland judge strikes down Democrat-drawn House map

Democrats' attempt to shift the Maryland maps to favor their party is considered one of the more aggressive movements toward gerrymandering going on in the country.
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The House of Representatives chamber
The House of Representatives chamber
(The Washington Post/Getty)

A judge in Maryland stuck down newly proposed U.S. House district maps the Democrat-controlled state General Assembly drew.

Judge Lynn Battaglia ruled in favor of Republican groups, including one with the backing of GOP Gov. Larry Hogan, and Maryland voters who said they were being silenced.

The judge ordered the assembly to redraw the congressional maps to more closely adhere to the state constitution which orders legislators to consider political subdivisions and natural boundaries for districts.

"Popular 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. The map legislative Democrats passed subverts that will of those governed," wrote the judge in a 94-page ruling.

The group Fair Maps Maryland, which Gov. Hogan supports, celebrated their win in court. 

"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," said the group in a statement.

For his part, Hogan has urged the assembly to take up the maps drawn by nonpartisan group Citizens Redistricting Commission. Democrats will, however, likely appeal the ruling prompting a final decision from the state's Court of Appeals. 

By way of Democratic effort, the proposed maps in Maryland were among the most aggressive attempts to create district layouts that heavily favor Democrats. A similar situation is playing out in Oregon, as well as in Texas and Ohio – though Republicans allegedly drew the maps to favor their party in the latter two states.