Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday that he will sign a friend-of-the-court brief in a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court — joining the side of Republican voters who say Maryland’s congressional district map violated their First Amendment rights.
Hogan, a Republican, and former California Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, are jointly filing the brief and calling on other current and former governors to join them and oppose what Hogan called “shameful gerrymandering.”
“This kind of arrogant behavior and political subterfuge is exactly why the people of Maryland are fed up with politics as usual,” Hogan said.
The Supreme Court agreed last month to hear the case, Benisek v. Lamone. In the lawsuit, seven Republican voters argue that Maryland’s 2011 redistricting process violated their freedom of speech because it was drawn to put them in the minority.
The case focuses on Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, which covers Western Maryland and was long held by Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett until it was redrawn in 2011 to include more Democrats in Montgomery County. Rep. John Delaney, a Democrat from Potomac, unseated Bartlett in 2013. In a deposition last year, former Gov. Martin O’Malley admitted that the map had been drawn to put the district in play for Democrats.
Maryland’s congressional delegation includes seven Democrats and one Republican, Rep. Andy Harris. Voters registered as Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1 in the state.
Hogan said he is taking the step of signing the brief himself because “sadly, Maryland’s attorney general is on the wrong side of this fight and the wrong side of history.”
Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat, is constitutionally required to defend the state in the lawsuit, a spokeswoman said.
As Hogan announced his plans to sign the brief, he also said he will for the third year introduce legislation to put Maryland’s redistricting process in the hands of a nonpartisan commission.
Last year, that push resulted in legislation that would change Maryland’s redistricting process only if New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina also agreed to change their processes. Hogan vetoed the bill, and when the legislature convened last week, it put off a vote to override that veto until the last day of this year’s lawmaking session, April 9.
He called on Maryland lawmakers to act independently, saying other states’ representation in Congress has nothing to do with the redistricting process for the General Assembly.
“In Maryland, we can no longer accept the status quo,” he said.