Gov. Larry Hogan has filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking to back up the claims of Maryland residents who argue the state’s 6th Congressional District was unconstitutionally gerrymandered.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments March 26 in a case in which Republican voters argued their influence was diluted when the district was redrawn following the 2010 census. The district stretches from Western Maryland into Montgomery County.
The case dates to 2013 and federal judges previously ruled the boundary lines were unconstitutional and the map should be redrawn. Hogan, a Republican, created a commission to suggest new boundaries, while Democratic Attorney General Brian Frosh of Maryland appealed the order to the Supreme Court.
Hogan’s brief, jointly written with former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, argues that when districts are drawn to favor one party over another, it results in elected officials who “often hold far more extreme views than the citizens they represent.”
And when that happens, residents of those districts — especially moderate voters — have little means to “influence the policy making process,” Hogan and Schwarzenegger wrote.
They compared gerrymandered districts to the Harlem Globetrotters: Everyone knows which party is going to win ahead of time.
“Partisan gerrymandering, by design, decreases electoral competition in general elections and democratic accountability along with it,” they wrote.
The Hogan-Schwarzenegger brief is among several amicus briefs filed in the case in recent days.
Another brief from 40 current and former members of Congress — including Maryland’s current Republican Rep. Andy Harris and former Republican Rep. Connie Morella — makes similar arguments that “extreme partisan gerrymandering harms our political system.”
The brief cites Harris’ district, which also was redrawn after the 2010 census. Annapolis-area voters in the district were moved out, while voters from “landlocked” communities near the Pennsylvania border were moved in. That put more Republicans in the district and ended up “diluting the district’s coherent, Eastern Shore-based identity.”
“The cycles of extreme partisan gerrymandering are self-perpetuating, with partisan and mistrust begetting still greater partisanship and mistrust,” they wrote.
As the court case plays out, Hogan’s redistricting commission has a meeting scheduled Tuesday in Montgomery County.
Also, Hogan has introduced legislation in the General Assembly to create a nonpartisan commission to draw district boundaries in the future, but the legislation has not advanced.