Advertisement

U.S. Supreme Court expected to rule Thursday on Maryland gerrymandering case

U.S. Supreme Court expected to rule Thursday on Maryland gerrymandering case
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule Thursday on a case alleging gerrymandering in Maryland’s congressional redistricting. In this file photo, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, left, and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, attend a rally for "Fair Maps" at the court. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule Thursday on a high-profile case alleging unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering by Democrats in Maryland’s congressional redistricting process.

The court also is expected to issue an opinion on a similar case alleging gerrymandering by Republicans in North Carolina.

Advertisement

Together, the cases give the justices an opportunity to address how far mapmakers of either party can go in pursuit of political advantage.

Democratic Attorney General Brian Frosh appealed Maryland’s case to the high court in November after a panel of federal judges threw out the state’s map for the 6th congressional district, which stretches from Montgomery County to western Maryland.

The judges said Democratic state officials unconstitutionally drew the district’s boundaries with a goal of diminishing Republican influence. In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1, the Maryland mapmakers turned an eight-member House delegation that was split 4-4 in 2000 into one that has seven Democrats and one Republican.

Frosh said he asked the high court to hear the case in the hope of getting clear guidance on the standards Maryland political leaders need to apply when they next draw maps.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has made attacking gerrymandering a signature issue, calling it “one of the biggest problems we have in America.”

Leading Maryland Democrats have declined to embrace the gerrymandering "fix" favored by Hogan: a bipartisan commission to redraw the lines.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in the case in March. It’s now in the final week of its term and is expected to release its five final opinions Thursday morning.

They also include the court’s decision on whether the Trump administration can add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Democrats fear the question will reduce census participation in communities with high concentrations of undocumented immigrants.

Maryland has seen the largest net gain of unauthorized immigrants among the states over the past decade, according to a recent report from the Pew Research Center based on 2016 data.

Advertisement
Advertisement