Lawsuit Filed Over Maryland Congressional Redistricting - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Lawsuit Filed Over Maryland Congressional Redistricting

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A government watchdog group filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday challenging the constitutionality of Maryland's congressional district map.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore by Judicial Watch, contends Maryland has some of the most gerrymandered districts in the nation. Gerrymandering is the process in which officials draw congressional districts to help their party.

Del. Neil Parrott, a Washington County Republican, and Del. Matt Morgan, a St. Mary's County Republican, are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, along with former delegate and gubernatorial candidate Ellen Sauerbrey and others.

It's not the first time the drawing of the state's eight congressional districts has been challenged in court. In 2011, a three-judge panel dismissed an earlier and separate lawsuit against the state's congressional redistricting map.

Judicial Watch said this lawsuit is unique, because it is proposing an objective compactness measure to determine whether the map is constitutional. The lawsuit argues that the plaintiffs' plan shows that the non-compactness of Maryland's current districts is not due to the unusual shape of the state.

"Rather, this non-compactness is due to the deliberately bizarre district lines Maryland legislators drew in order to gerrymander, as any visual review of its district plan confirms," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit specifically cites Maryland's 6th Congressional District in western Maryland. In the state's 2011 redistricting process added a big chunk of Democrat-heavy Montgomery County in the suburbs of the nation's capital to what had been a Republican stronghold in western Maryland. Critics at the time argued the move was made to target 10-term Republican Roscoe Bartlett to draw him out of office. He ended up losing the 2012 election to Democrat John Delaney, giving Democrats a 7-1 majority in the state's eight congressional seats.
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