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Illinois GOP lose congressional remap case; Democratic map stands

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WASHINGTON--A three-judge federal panel in Chicago on Thursday rejected a bid by Illinois Republicans to redraw a congressional map heavily tilted in favor of Democrats. The court turned down arguments that the map, drawn by Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly, was a partisan racial gerrymander that denied Illinois Hispanics a second district.
Read the 55-page opinion....
The judges, John Daniel Tinder, Robert L. Miller, Jr. and Joan Humphrey Lefkow, wrote in their opinion, "As to the partisan gerrymander claims, although we agree with the Committee that the crafting of the Adopted Map was a blatant political move to increase the number of Democratic congressional seats, ultimately we conclude that the Committee failed to present a workable standard by which to evaluate such" a claim.

The Republicans--faced with a map that could hardly be worse for them--hoped that they could get a court to order new lines be drawn based on the argument that the growing number of Hispanics reflected in the 2010 Census merited them a second Illinois district. Even though that district would probably have been Democratic, the Republicans hoped the court would adopt a map they submitted which would have given Republicans a better deal.

The main plaintiffs in the case were all but one of the Illinois House Republicans. They said in a statement, "We are disappointed in the court's ruling today, especially considering the very serious issues we raised in our challenge to the Democrats' map, including discrimination against the state's growing Latino population. We are in the process of reviewing the decision and evaluating our options for future action.

"Regardless of today's decision, we continue to believe that fairness should be the driving principle in the redistricting process. A balanced congressional map is necessary to ensure that the people of Illinois have an opportunity to express their will at the ballot box and elect those representatives who best reflect their shared interests.

"Unfortunately, the Democrats who control state government decided instead to maximize their partisan advantage in the map-making process at the expense of Latino and Republican voters. That kind of selfish approach to governing should never be tolerated.

On the Hispanic district argument, the judges wrote in their opinion, the "vote dilution claims fail because the Committee has not proven by a preponderance of the evidence that the state legislature intentionally discriminated against Latinos in passing the Adopted Map. Again, we acknowledge that Latino ethnicity was a factor in creating District 4 in 1991, but times have changed: the weight of the evidence shows that the predominant intent of the 2011 Illinois legislature in maintaining Adopted District 4 in substantially the same shape as when it was created in 1991 was a desire to enhance Democratic seats in the state as a whole, to keep Democratic incumbents in Districts 3, 4, and 5 with their constituents, to preserve existing district boundaries, and to maintain communities of interest. Because race was not the predominant factor, the Committee failed to meet its burden of proof on its racial gerrymander claims under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act or the Constitution,' the judges ruled.

Read the 55-page opinion....

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on December 15, 2011 4:10 PM.

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