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Brochin, Kelley get their day in court to challenge state legislative map

Laws and LegislationJustice SystemMartin O'MalleyMichael E. BuschDelores G. Kelley

A day after voters decide whether or not to accept Maryland's new congressional districts on the referendum ballot, the state Court of Appeals will hear a case on Nov. 7, brought by state Sens. Jim Brochin and Delores Kelley, that seeks to throw out the newly-drawn state legislative map — which determines representatives in Annapolis.

Brochin and Kelley filed the case after the maps were drawn by the state legislature earlier this year.

"I think we have a compelling case, and I think that the (state) Constitution trumps politics here," said Brochin, who represents District 42, including Towson.

"The basic premise of the case is that Baltimore City lost population and they should lose representation," Brochin said. "In order for them to maintain their representation, they stuck their hand into Sen. Kelley's district."

Jonathan Shurburg, the pair's attorney, will argue that the new city-county District 44 violates the state law, which requires each legislative district to give due regard to natural and political boundaries and mandates that districts be compact in form and equal in population.

"The strongest case is that due regard was not given to the boundary between Baltimore City and Baltimore County," Brochin said.

Kelley's current district, District 10, would lose Catonsville nd parts of Woodlawn, but pick up portions of Glyndon and Reisterstown to accommodate the newly-drawn city-county District 44, which gives Baltimore City six sitting senators.

Kelley did not respond to a request to comment for this story.

As a result of District 44 stretching into the county and shifting District 10 north, Brochin believes his own district has been improperly altered as well.

Currently, the Democratic senator's district primarily includes Towson, but under the new plan, District 42 will be split into sub-districts, 42A and 42B.

District 42A contains much of the old district and spans from the Baltimore City line up to the Beltway, but District 42B stretches up through Hunt Valley and Hereford and shares a border with Pennsylvania and Carroll County.

Brochin and Kelley's case is one of four appeals in regards to the new map, and Brochin believes a 10-year-old case that saw the state government's last attempt at a legislative map thrown out and redrawn is a good precedent.

Brochin said that the fact that the judges drew the previous map as they did — with no city-county districts — could bode well for their case.

"Was it an accident when they drew Baltimore City 10 years ago?" he asked. "We're saying there's a reason they did that, but they'll dictate where the next map gets redrawn if we prevail."

Among his senatorial colleagues, Brochin said he has fielded some questions about the appeal, but overall the reaction is "very supportive" of his and Kelley's appeal.

And though he declined to identify the colleagues who were lending him support with the suit, Brochin said the list would "surprise and shock" Senate President Mike Miller.

"I've had colleagues of mine who got great districts, and they're rooting me on," Brochin said. "I can't tell you why, but they are."

Brochin bills the lawsuit as a case of he and Kelley against Gov. Martin O'Malley, President Miller and Michael Busch, speaker of the House of Delegates.

Perhaps recognizing what he's up against, Brochin said he has already spent time meeting constituents in Cockeysville and points north, where he believes his fiscal responsibility will help him in a district that will become much more Republican.

"They did it for political reasons, and I don't think it can be justified," Brochin said. "That's the problem with the whole system. The voters should be choosing us, we shouldn't be choosing them."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Laws and LegislationJustice SystemMartin O'MalleyMichael E. BuschDelores G. Kelley
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