A Maryland judge ruled Friday that the state’s new congressional map is unconstitutional, preventing the map from taking effect.
Judge Lynne Battaglia issued the ruling after a trial last week in which Republican lawmakers contended that Maryland’s congressional map approved by the General Assembly in December violates the constitution by drawing districts that favor Democrats, who control the legislature.
“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.
The judge added that she was entering a judgment in favor of the plaintiffs to reject the map and “permanently enjoining its operation, and giving the General Assembly an opportunity to develop new Congressional Plan that is constitutional.”
In Maryland, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1 and Democrats hold a strong majority in both chambers of the legislature, the GOP has long criticized the map as one of the most gerrymandered in the nation.
“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,” said Doug Mayer, a spokesman for Fair Maps Maryland. “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 ruling comes under the unusual circumstances of Maryland having a Republican governor in a redistricting year. Gov. Larry Hogan, who has long sought reforms to the way the state draws political boundaries, created a separate commission to draw maps for the state’s congressional seats and state legislative districts in hopes of taking politicians out of the process of drawing districts.
If the case comes before the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, all but one of the serving judges have been appointed by Hogan.