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Judge Tosses Maryland Congressional Map Over ‘Extreme Partisan Gerrymandering’

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The Maryland State Capitol Building in Annapolis, Md., in a file image. By Zachary Stieber for Epoch Times  March 26, 2022

A Maryland judge on March 25 threw out a congressional map lawmakers recently enacted, ruling that it was a product of “extreme partisan gerrymandering.”

Anne Arundel County Senior Judge Lynne Battaglia, an appointee of former Democrat Gov. Glendening, found that the map unconstitutionally was aimed at reducing the power of Republican voters because it shifted the only GOP member of Congress representing Maryland, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), into a different district, where he was likely to lose.

The new map, approved by Democrat state lawmakers in Maryland in late 2021, left Democrats with an estimated advantage in every single one of the eight congressional districts, according to the Princeton Gerrymandering Project.

Further, Sean Trende, an elections analyst tapped by plaintiffs, found through voting simulations that Democrats would likely win all eight districts.

Trende testified in the case that the map was drawn “with an intent to hurt the Republican party’s chances of letting anyone in Congress” and “dilutes and diminishes the ability of Republicans to elect candidates of choice.”

Allan Lichtman, another analyst, told the court that Trende’s analysis was lacking and that he believed the map was actually tilted towards Republicans compared to previous maps, which would lead to the GOP gaining seats in the 2022 midterm elections. But he drew criticism from the judge when he falsely said the map did not pit Harris against Rep. Kewisi Mfume (D-Md.) in Maryland’s Seventh Congressional District—Harris moved to Cambridge after the map was enacted so he could defend the seat he holds—and he acknowledged under cross-examination that Democrats did not lose seats during midterm elections during former President Barack Obama’s time in office.

Battaglia said she found Trende’s testimony and analysis compelling and ruled that the map “is an outlier and product of extreme partisan gerrymandering.”

She ordered the General Assembly to develop a new plan “that is constitutional.”

The ruling came after voters represented by Fair Maps Maryland and Judicial Watch sued over the map.

“Judge Battaglia’s ruling confirms what we have all known for years—Maryland is ground zero for gerrymandering, our districts and political reality reek of it, and there is abundant proof that it is occurring,” Doug Mayer, spokesman for Fair Maps Maryland, said in a statement.

“This key court victory against abusive partisan gerrymandering by Democrats in Maryland could set a national precedent,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

Members of the legislature on the General Assembly commission that was in charge of making the map did not respond to requests for comment.

Maryland  Sen. Bill Ferguson and state Del. Adrienne Jones, both Democrats and members of the panel, said in a joint statement after the map was enacted that it “provides cleaner lines and more compact districts while keeping a significant portion of Marylanders in their current districts, ensuring continuity of representation.”

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat, has not decided on whether an appeal will be lodged, his office told The Epoch Times in an email.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican who formed a body that recommended a different map, said the ruling “puts in plain view the partisan, secretive, and rigged process that led to the legislature’s illegal and unconstitutional maps” and called on lawmakers to adopt the map drawn up by the body.

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