A group of Maryland Republican voters, claiming that they were penalized for supporting their party’s candidates in the polling booth, asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday to make a sweeping review of the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering, and to do so before next summer. The document called for back-to-back hearings, on the same day, in their case and in a similar pending case from North Carolina.
The new filing argued bluntly: “If this Court does not take the opportunity, once and for all, to condemn political gerrymandering as the First Amendment violation that it is, it will be giving a green light to lawmakers across the country to engage in gerrymandering in 2020 like never before.” (Redistricting of political boundaries is usually necessary after every 10-year census, due to population shifts.)
The seven GOP voters, who live in a western Maryland area that for decades routinely elected a Republican to a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, have seen their candidates lose in every election since the state’s Democratic leaders drew up a new district in 2011, giving a decided advantage to Democratic candidates. The 2011 plan was drafted explicitly to help assure that Democrats won seven of the state’s eight seats in the House by flipping the Sixth District from GOP to Democratic dominance.
The result of that flip, the GOP voters argued in their new filing, is that “those living in rural western Maryland…are now represented by a congressman elected by wealthy suburban Democrats over 150 miles away, in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.”