'Extreme Gerrymander': Maryland Judge Scraps State's District Map as Unconstitutional

© AFP 2023 / PATRICK SMITH In an aerial view from a drone, the Ocean City inlet and Ocean City boardwalk is seen on March 12, 2021 in Ocean City, Maryland
 In an aerial view from a drone, the Ocean City inlet and Ocean City boardwalk is seen on March 12, 2021 in Ocean City, Maryland - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.03.2022
In mid-February, a local court blocked the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's attempt to defend Maryland's district map. The document threatens to gerrymander Republican Governor Larry Hogan out of his seat.
A Maryland judge has ruled that a district map drawn up by the state's General Assembly is an unconstitutional gerrymander that unfairly favours Democrats.
In a 94-page ruling, Judge Lynne Battaglia ordered the Democratic-controlled state legislature to try again to draw a new congressional district map by 30 March.
She claimed that the current document supports the argument that "the voice of Republican voters was diluted and their right to vote and be heard with the efficacy of a Democratic voter was diminished".

"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 2021 Congressional Plan is unconstitutional, and subverts that will of those governed", Battaglia wrote.

According to her, the plan is an "outlier" and an "extreme gerrymander that subordinates constitutional criteria to politician considerations".
Fair Maps Maryland, a group backed by Republican Governor Larry Hogan, reacted to the ruling by touting it as a major win for the GOP.

"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. 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", the group said.

Hogan himself applauded Battaglia's decision as a "historic milestone" for Maryland.
The move follows Hogan requesting assistance from President Joe Biden's Department of Justice (DOJ) in a December op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, where the Maryland governor asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to sue his own state over the district map which he said violates the Voting Rights Act.
Earlier in December, Hogan slammed the map, which allegedly was "drawn in back rooms by party bosses in Annapolis", as an "embarrassment to all that our state stands for".
He claimed that he was imposing a veto on the new maps because he was defending the "fairness and integrity in our elections and in our political system".
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