Judicial Watch has notched another critical court victory recently on a very important issue – gerrymandering.
On August 17, Maryland’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, issued a ruling that will subject Maryland’s newly gerrymandered Congressional Districting Plan (MD Senate Bill 1, Chapter 1 of the 2011 Special Session of the General Assembly) to voter referendum on Election Day 2012. The Court of Appeals of Maryland shot down an effort initiated by the state Democratic Party that sought to stop the referendum and silence the voices of Maryland voters.
The appellate court decision upheld the August 10, 2012, ruling by Judge Ronald A. Silkworth:
ORDERED AND DECLARED, that the petition submitted to the Maryland State Board of Elections to refer Senate Bill 1, Chapter 1 of the 2011 Special Session of the General Assembly, is legally sufficient to refer the laws to the voters under Article XVI of the Maryland Constitution; and it is further, ORDERED, that Senate Bill 1, Chapter 1 of the 2011 Special Session of the General Assembly shall be placed on the November 2012 ballot…
MDPetitions.com launched a successful petition drive to put the Congressional Districting Plan to a referendum November 2012 because the state’s gerrymandered maps minimize the voting power of certain groups. The goal of MDPetitions.com was simple: Let the voters decide.
But the last thing Maryland Democrats wanted was for voters to be informed about how they had carved up the state to the advantage of Democrat incumbents. So they filed a lawsuit to stop the referendum from going forward. Judicial Watch represents MDPetitions.com and defended the petition drive at a hearing before the High Court in Annapolis, MD, last week. And fortunately, our team was successful in persuading the court that the referendum should go forward.
Delegate Neil Parrott, Chairman of MDPetitions.com, hailed the decision as a “great victory” for Maryland voters:
We are pleased that voters will have a say on what is likely the most gerrymandered congressional map in the country. On Election Day, we expect that both Democrats and Republicans will overturn these undemocratic and racially divisive congressional maps.
And here’s a statement I offered to the press:
Governor O’Malley and certain Democrat powerbrokers will now be held accountable to the will of the people of Maryland. Our lawyers were honored to protect the right of voters to exercise their right to keep in check the excesses of the politicians in Annapolis.
On October 20, 2011, Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD, pictured above) signed the new Congressional Districting Plan into law, drawing heavy criticism from both political parties. Critics maintain the new congressional map is specifically designed to enhance the power of Democrat incumbents while minimizing the voting power of minorities, rural voters and Republicans.
As noted by a Washington Post editorial: “The map, drafted under Mr. O’Malley’s watchful eye, mocks the idea that voting districts should be compact or easily navigable. The eight districts respect neither jurisdictional boundaries nor communities of interest. To protect incumbents and for partisan advantage, the map has been sliced, diced, shuffled and shattered, making districts resemble studies in cubism.” On this topic, I love this old clip of President Ronald Reagan, in his last interview in office, attacking gerrymandering.
MDPetitions.com developed a cutting edge Internet tool to empower voters to have more of say, through the referendum process, in how they are governed.