SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — Maryland’s attorney general on Thursday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review an order for state officials to draw up a new congressional redistricting plan that isn’t tainted by partisan gerrymandering.
Attorney General Brian Frosh’s office also filed a separate request for the redistricting case to remain on hold until the Supreme Court acts on the state’s appeal.
A Nov. 7 ruling by a panel of three federal judges orders the state to submit a new map by March 7. Otherwise, the court said it will appoint a commission to produce a redistricting plan for use in the 2020 congressional election.
In a court filing Thursday, Frosh’s office argued the judges’ order should be suspended pending the outcome of the Supreme Court appeal “to avoid potentially contradictory results or needless expenditure of public resources.”
Several Republican voters sued over the boundaries of one of Maryland’s eight congressional districts, claiming state officials unfairly redrew it in 2011 to favor Democrats.
The Supreme Court reviewed the case before deciding in June to refer it back to the lower court for a decision, effectively allowing the 2011 map to remain in place for last week’s midterm elections.
Attorneys from Frosh’s office noted the Supreme Court could address the issue of partisan gerrymandering again during its current term.
“Any further guidance from the Supreme Court will be important to ensure that, even if this Court’s order is affirmed, state lawmakers do not redraw Maryland’s electoral map for 2020 using a standard that is not the one ultimately adopted by the Supreme Court,” they wrote.
A spokeswoman for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, accused the Democratic attorney general and legislative leaders of opposing “free and fair elections, even in the wake of a unanimous federal court ruling.”
“Marylanders are sick and tired of partisan gerrymandering and the partisan politicians who defend it, and legislators would better serve their constituents by working with us to create a nonpartisan process instead of continuing to disenfranchise voters,” Hogan’s spokeswoman, Amelia Chasse, said in a statement Thursday.
The panel hearing the case in U.S. District Court in Maryland said the state must redraw the 6th congressional district’s lines using “traditional criteria for redistricting,” showing regard for “natural boundaries.”
The decision, written by 4th U.S. Circuit Court Judge Paul Niemeyer, says the state’s 2011 congressional map removed roughly 66,000 Republican voters from the 6th district and added around 24,000 Democratic voters, “bringing about the single greatest alteration of voter makeup in any district in the Nation following the 2010 census.”
Redistricting maps are drawn by the governor and approved by the state’s General Assembly, which is currently controlled by Democrats.