Shock Ruling: Court Strikes Down Democrat Gerrymander in Maryland

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

It’s been a wild, past few weeks, when it comes to surprise rulings on redistricting.

As RedState reported on Wednesday, the US Supreme Court stepped in to overturn Gov. Tony Ever’s district-level map in Wisconsin. That left the left reeling, not because of the consequences of possibly losing a district or two, but because the precedent of the ruling took another big bite out of the Voting Rights Act, which Democrats have used for decades as a kind of “cheat code” to gerrymander in their favor while stopping Republicans from doing the same.

Now, a shock ruling out of Maryland has nuked the extreme Democrat gerrymander there.

Maryland has long been ground zero in the country for ridiculous gerrymandering. While Democrats outnumber Republicans by about two to one in the state, the last Congressional map handed Democrats a 7-1 advantage. This time around, the legislature, apparently not content with that level of domination, decided to target that one and only GOP district, making it more competitive.

The 30,000-foot view of this ruling is that the judge said the legislature’s map violated the state constitution, which has some provisions in it requiring districts to be compact, while giving some eye toward political subdivisions (i.e. if 35 percent of voters are Republicans, they shouldn’t be getting only 12 percent of the districts). From there, the judge then ruled the map, because it violated the state’s constitution, also violated the free speech and equal protection clauses.

There is no doubt the ruling will be appealed, but because of Gov. Larry Hogan’s judicial appointments over the last several years, the chance this ruling is overturned is slim. Maryland’s appeals court and supreme court lean heavily Republican at this point. So, while there will be lots of complaining from the media and the left (but I repeat myself), Democrats may have finally run into a brick wall regarding one of their favorite states to gerrymander.

Hogan had previously urged the legislature to adopt the map drawn up by the non-partisan commission he established (which still heavily favors Democrats). That may be the only option now, especially if the courts step in and take over the process further.

The timeline is tight, but not too tight. The state’s primary isn’t until July 19th, after being pushed back recently, giving several more months for possible litigation. In the end, Republicans could end up with an extra district, and that would be a big win.