A judge will deliberate this weekend over whether claims by Maryland Republicans that gerrymandering of the state’s congressional districts falls afoul of the state’s constitution hold enough water to warrant a trial.
Maryland Republicans contend aggressive efforts by Democrats to stack congressional districts in their own favor violate constitutional provisions guaranteeing the fairness and “purity” of elections.
The congressional map, which was passed by the General Assembly with only Democratic support in December over the objections of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, appears to cement Democratic control of seven of Maryland’s eight congressional seats and likely gives Democratic challengers a better shot at knocking off the lone Republican, U.S. Rep. Andy Harris.
Judge Lynne A. Battaglia, who is a retired state appeals court judge assigned to the case, said Wednesday she would issue her decision by Tuesday after hearing arguments from attorneys for two groups of Republicans as well as lawyers for Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat defending the state in the case.
Battaglia previously served on the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, and helped oversee the court-ordered redrawing of General Assembly districts in 2002.
If Battaglia allows the challenge to go forward, the judge said she would like to hold a trial in mid-March and swiftly issue a final ruling before the end of the month. Regardless of the ruling, the case could end up in the hands of the Maryland Court of Appeals.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NEW YORK TIMES