Maryland Court of Appeals hears congressional redistricting case
By John Henrehan, FOX 5 Reporter
New congressional redistricting map for Maryland
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -
The Maryland Court of Appeals will likely decide very soon whether voters in the Free State will have a chance to veto the new redistricting map.
This November, voters in Maryland are already going to decide three big issues via referendum: legalizing gay marriage, expanding gambling, and the Dream Act (for in-state tuition for undocumented teens whose families pay taxes). There is a good chance a fourth item will be on the ballot: redistricting.
The Democratic-dominated legislature, after the census, has reconfigured the 6th Congressional District to include a big hunk of Montgomery County -- where many Democratic-leaning voters live.
This puts 10-term Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett in great jeopardy. His previous district consisted almost entirely of rural areas.
Republicans have gathered enough signatures to challenge the redistricting plan, but attorneys for the Democratic Party have argued in court that the signature-gathering process was flawed. The Democratic effort to keep the item off the ballot failed in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, so they appealed.
Attorneys for the state told the appellate panel the signatures are valid, and the referendum should be held.
Even though Democrats outnumber Republicans in Maryland, Republicans are confident that if they can challenge the redistricting in the voting booth, they will win.
"It's happened before," explained Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington Co.). "In 1962, the League of Women Voters (which opposed this map) opposed the map at the time. [They] led the petition drive [and] got it on the ballot. The citizens of Maryland said, 'No, get rid of this map, get a new one.' And they got a much better map in 1965. I believe the same thing is going to happen this time."
The Court of Appeals is expected to expedite its ruling. Why? Because on Monday, the Secretary of State of Maryland is supposed to publish the formal language that will be on the ballot for all referenda scheduled for the election of November 6.