Judicial Watch announced Tuesday that a Maryland court has set a trial date for its lawsuit against the State of Maryland that challenges the state’s 2021 Congressional redistricting plan. In moving forward with the case, the court denied the motion of the State of Maryland and its election officials to dismiss Judicial Watch’s lawsuit against them. The trial is scheduled for March 15-18, 2022.
Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit on behalf of 12 registered Maryland voters who object to Maryland’s 2021 congressional redistricting plan on the grounds that it is a partisan gerrymander that diminishes their rights to participate in free and fair elections for the U.S. Congress on an equal basis with other Maryland voters, in violation of the Maryland Constitution (Parrott et al. v Lamone et al. (No. C-02-CV-21-001773)). The trial will also include plaintiffs from a separate lawsuit against the Maryland gerrymander.
Judicial Watch’s lawsuit details:
Maryland’s recent history of partisan gerrymandering is no secret. [its 2011] congressional district map … remains one of the most notorious partisan gerrymanders in U.S. history. A federal district judge openly doubted that it could provide “fair and effective representation for all citizens.” Another called it “absurd” to suggest ‘that there is a community of interest” in a district described as a “Rorschach-like eyesore.” [A federal appeals court] famously described the same district as “a broken-winged pterodactyl, lying prostrate across the center of the state.”
The lawsuit relates that a bipartisan commission recommended a map to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on November 5 that he approved, but the legislature passed a different proposal in a straight party-line vote. On December 9, 2021, Hogan vetoed this proposal, and, the same day, the state legislature overrode his veto on another party-line vote.
Outside experts agree that the plan is flawed, with the nonpartisan Princeton Gerrymandering Project giving it a grade of “F” for fairness and geographic compactness. In 2020, Republicans accounted for approximately 35% of Maryland’s congressional votes, but they’re unlikely to win even a single seat under this plan. This outcome wouldn’t be possible without political gerrymandering.
“This historic challenge and trial are necessary because Democrats in the legislature abused power in setting up Maryland’s gerrymandered congressional maps,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This trial is about protecting the rights of all voters and citizens. Politicians shouldn’t get to pick their voters.”
In June 2015, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Maryland’s gerrymandered congressional district map in federal court. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of voters in each of Maryland’s congressional districts—including Maryland Delegate Neil Parrott, who is also the lead plaintiff in this new state-court lawsuit. In December 2016, Judicial Watch filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in response to Maryland’s attempt to retain the gerrymandered voter districting plan.
Judicial Watch is being assisted by Gardner M. Duvall of Whiteford Taylor Preston in Baltimore, and by William J. Holtzinger, Esq., of Frederick, Maryland.