The Supreme Court ruling kept gerrymandered congressional districts in place.
Frederick, Md (KM). There appears to be some hope for those who favor redistricting reform following a US Supreme Court ruling last month. That’s according to Senior Fellow Walter Olson with the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington.
Last month, a majority of the Justices on the High Court ruled on a series of cases where the plaintiffs argued that several congressional districts around the country were redrawn to favor one political party over another, including the 6th Congressional District in Maryland. A Count of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, and ordered the districts redrawn. That case went to the Supreme Court, which said federal judges have no role in the redrawing of congressional districts. “They wound of upholding Maryland’s redistricting by keeping the federal courts out of its completely,” says Olson. “That’s why here in Maryland were stuck with the current map for another two years.”
The 6th District was redrawn following the 2010 Census to include parts of northern Montgomery County as well as Washington, Allegany and Garrett Counties. The eastern part of Frederick County was assigned to the 8th District which also includes Montgomery County.
Critics charged gerrymandering, saying it was by then-Governor Martin O’Malley to make sure a Democrat would win out over long time Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett. Democrat John Delaney defeated Bartlett in the 2012 general election, and served in the House of Representatives for six years until he decided to run for President in 2020.
Olson, who was a guest recently on WFMD’s “Success Happens,” said the good news is that the 6th District may need to be redrawn following the results of the 2020 Census, and that will be the job of Republican Governor Larry Hogan, who has called for redistricting reform.
But Olson says a number of Democrats are also calling for redistricting reform. “I think that might include the new speaker, Adrienne Jones, who said in response to the Supreme Court that she was disappointed in it,” he said. “I think we can conclude that a lot of good government delegates in Montgomery County who have been signaling that they want to get rid of the gerrymandering.”
He also says there’s a push for redistricting reform in just about every state in the US. “There is a lot of movement in a lot of states. Four-fifths had voter-initiative-driven reform in the last year. Plus a couple more like New Hampshire and Virginia who are doing it without the initiative process. So there’s definitely is a national trend, state by state.”
Olson notes that the way Maryland’s 6th District is drawn has been the butt of jokes on late night television. “The whole country is watching. It’s not just the day the Supreme Court rules that the 6th District gets into national coverage. Sort of year in and year, Maryland is used as a bad example. Time to change that,” he says.
By Kevin McManus