ANNAPOLIS, MD—On Friday, March 25, 2022, Judge Lynne A Battaglia issued a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs Szeliga vs. Lamone regarding the redistricting maps approved by the Maryland General Assembly this year. The plaintiffs claimed the maps were severely gerrymandered and used to solidify the Democrat’s control over the Maryland government. The Judge sent the map back to the GA to develop a map that is in accordance with Maryland Law.
At the end of the Judge’s ruling she stated,” …Finally, with respect to the evaluation of the 2021 Plan through the lens of the Constitution and Declaration of Rights, it is axiomatic that popular sovereignty is the paramount consideration in a republican, democratic government. The limitation of the undue extension of power by any branch of government must be exercised to ensure that the will of the people is heard, no matter under which political placard those governing reside. The 2021 Congressional Plan is unconstitutional and subverts the will of those governed.
As a result, this Court will enter a declaratory judgment in favor of the Plaintiffs, declaring the 2021 Plan unconstitutional, permanently enjoining its operation, and giving the General Assembly an opportunity to develop a new Congressional Plan that is constitutional. A separate declaratory judgment will be entered as of today’s date.”
Governor Larry Hogan today issued the following statement:
“For nearly eight years, we have been fighting to end the gerrymandering monopoly that has for too long been a shameful legacy of our state. This ruling is a monumental victory for every Marylander who cares about protecting our democracy, bringing fairness to our elections and putting the people back in charge. It puts in plain view the partisan, secretive, and rigged process that led to the legislature’s illegal and unconstitutional maps. I call on the General Assembly to immediately pass the independent Citizens Redistricting Commission maps that were written with accountability and transparency. This is a historic milestone in our fight to clean up the political process in our state, and ensure that the voices of the people we are elected to serve are finally heard.”
Fair Maps Maryland stated in an email:
“To call this a big deal would be the understatement of the century. Judge Battaglia’s ruling confirms what we have all known for years—Maryland is ground zero for gerrymandering, our districts and political reality reek of it, and there is abundant proof that it is occurring. Marylanders have been fighting for free and fair elections for decades and for the first time in our state’s shameful history of gerrymandering, we are at the precipice of ending it.
“Not only did the judge rule in favor of our plaintiffs, but she confirmed that there is Maryland state law that applies to partisan gerrymandering, something the Attorney General’s office vigorously argued against. This would be massive news in its own right but combined with a favorable ruling, it’s a political earthquake.
“For nearly eight years, Governor Hogan has done everything in his power to bring this issue to light while repeatedly seeking a common-sense compromise with the leadership of the General Assembly. And for nearly eight years they refused to compromise with the governor, so now they get the cold hard reality of a court of law instead.
“This is a win for democracy, plain and simple.”
Senate President Ferguson and Speaker Jones issued the following statement in a press release:
We’re disappointed by today’s decision, and believe it is not representative of the historic and long-standing legal requirements and precedent that the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission took seriously when drawing Maryland’s new congressional map.
When the General Assembly approved our new congressional map in early December, we believed then, as we do now, that the new districts upheld the letter of the law by enacting fair boundaries that reflect demographic shifts and keep as many Marylanders as possible in their current district in a Congressional map that was approved by more than 64% of the voters.
The Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission conducted a transparent process as we visited every corner of the state, hearing from the public. That input and testimony guided us, in addition to prior rulings and established precedent on redistricting.
We respect the diligence put into the trial judge’s determination and we will review the court’s order that establishes brand new legal standards for the drawing of the Maryland Congressional map.
Delegate Szeliga’s Statement in Regards to Judge Lynne A. Battaglia’s Ruling Today:
In response to Judge Lynne A. Battaglia’s ruling today in favor of the plaintiffs in the case of Szeliga v Lamone, regarding Maryland’s Congressional Redistricting case, Kathy (Kathryn) Szeliga issued this statement:
“This decision is a victory for every Marylander. It is a victory for the representative democracy our founders envisioned. On this 338th anniversary of Maryland’s founding, this decision is a rebirth for our state. What a truly joyous Maryland Day!” declared Delegate Kathy Szeliga.
Judge Battaglia’s ruling states, “This trial judge agrees; the 2021 Plan is an outlier and a product of extreme partisan gerrymandering.”
The ruling goes on to say, “the 2021 Congressional Plan is a “gross outlier”, and that it is “extraordinarily unlikely that a map that looks like the 2021 Plan could be produced without extreme partisan gerrymandering.”
Judge Battaglia also ruled, “The plan does not even give lip service to the historical and constitutional significance of their role in the way Maryland is governed.”
When the Democrats in the Maryland General Assembly drew the 2021 congressional maps, the courts found that they were drawn with, “partisanship as a predominant intent… by the party in power to suppress the voice of Republican voters.”
Kathy Szeliga mentioned in conclusion, “the 2021 congressional maps passed in December without a single Republican vote in the House of Delegates and Maryland Senate. The court has entered a judgement that the maps violate the Maryland Constitution and Declaration of Rights and are therefore found unconstitutional. What a great and historic day for Maryland!”