Maryland’s Sixth District Boundaries Struck Down by Court

Map of Maryland’s Sixth District

A U.S. District Court panel has ruled unconstitutional the boundaries for Maryland’s Sixth District, which runs from Montgomery County to Backbone Mountain in Garrett County.

And as part of the ruling, the court wants new boundaries drawn for the 2020 elections — boundaries that would be redrawn again for the 2022 election once 2020 census data is available.

“We are reviewing options,” said Raquel Coombs, spokeswoman for Attorney General Brian Frosh, who could take the case to the Supreme Court.

Gov. Larry Hogan, who has railed against partisan gerrymandering since first taking office in 2014, called the decision as a victory for Maryland.

“With this unanimous ruling, the federal court is confirming what we in Maryland have known for a long time — that we have the most gerrymandered districts in the country, they were drawn this way for partisan reasons, and they violate Marylanders’ constitutional rights.,” Hogan said, in a statement.

The Supreme Court had decided to remand the case back to the District Court, which issued its ruling Wednesday. The court ruled that the boundaries denied the plaintiffs free speech by diluting the membership of the Republicans in the district.

But if Maryland does redraw the Sixth District, it could have a cascading effect across the state, redrawing the lines of several other districts.

“Generally, it’s a jigsaw puzzle or it’s like a push-me pull-you. You move something in one place it affects other places,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, who was re-elected Tuesday to represent the Eighth District. The Sixth and Eighth share borders in Frederick and Montgomery counties.

On Tuesday, Democrat David Trone of Potomac defeated Republican Amie Hoeber, also of Potomac, in the race to represent the Sixth District.

“David is currently reviewing the court’s decision. He has always been a strong supporter of national redistricting reform,” Trone spokeswoman Hannah Muldavin said.

The seat had been held from 1993 to 2013 by Republican Roscoe Bartlett of Buckeystown, and in the 22 years before that, the seat had been held by Democrats Goodloe and Beverly Byron.

Using the 2010 census, Democrats in Annapolis redrew the district’s lines to envelop parts of Montgomery County. By adding the county’s Democrats to the district, Bartlett lost making way for Rep. John Delaney, who is also from Potomac. Delaney gave up the seat this year to run for president in the 2020 election.

The Supreme Court has been reluctant to rule on gerrymandering cases.

“Basically, the court assumes the whole process is political,” Raskin said. “When does a process become too political? The court has simply thrown its hands up and despaired at coming up with an answer.”

If the Supreme Court rules on this case, Benisek vs. Lamone, it could provide ammunition to Democrats who have objected to district lines in other states.

Here is the court’s full opinion:

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Douglas Tallman

About Douglas Tallman

Reporter with 35 years experience throughout Maryland. Reach me at dtallman@mymcmedia.org or via Twitter at @MCM-Doug

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