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Governor Announces Emergency Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission, Resubmits Redistricting Reform Legislation

November 26th, 2018 by WCBC Radio

Governor Larry Hogan today signed Executive Order 01.01.2018.29 creating an Emergency Commission on Sixth Congressional District Gerrymandering, a nonpartisan commission to comply with a federal court order requiring Maryland to draw new boundaries for the 6th Congressional District. The governor also announced his intent to reintroduce legislation to create a permanent nonpartisan redistricting process for both congressional and legislative districts on the first day of the 2019 session of the Maryland General Assembly.

The governor was joined by Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford; the co-chairs of the Maryland Redistricting Reform Commission Judge Alexander Williams, who was appointed by President Clinton to the U.S. District Court in Maryland and Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the CATO Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies; and League of Women Voters administrator Ashley Oleson, who also served on the commission established by the governor in 2015.

In November 2018, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court ruled unanimously in the case of Benisek v. Lamone that Maryland’s 6th Congressional District is unconstitutional and must be redrawn prior to the 2020 election, giving a deadline of March 7, 2019. In his opinion, Chief Judge James K. Bredar referred to the type of partisan gerrymandering that had been inflicted on the voters of the 6th District a “cancer on our democracy.”

“Free and fair elections are the very foundation of American democracy and the most basic promise that those in power can pledge to the citizens we represent," said Governor Hogan. "This unanimous ruling was a victory for the overwhelming majority of Marylanders who value fairness and balance in our political system – who are fed up with the divisive partisan politics that are used to suppress any honest debate or real competition of ideas.”

Governor Hogan previously submitted an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the plaintiffs in Benisek v. Lamone  when the case was set to be heard this past term; however, the Supreme Court opted to refer the case to the U.S. District Court. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh is currently appealing the court’s ruling, despite public opinion surveys showing that the vast majority of Marylanders support nonpartisan redistricting reform.

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