Md. Court of Appeals set to hear arguments over redistricting

Maryland state elections officials say Aug. 16 is the latest possible date for this year’s primary election, if the state’s highest court decides to accept challenges to the legislative redistricting map.

The Court of Appeals has scheduled arguments for Wednesday. The court will consider a Republican challenge to the Democratic-drawn map of 47 districts in the state House of Delegates and state Senate.

Gov. Larry Hogan signed the map into law over objections by his party about gerrymandering for the map, which would be in place for 10 years and could affect the outcome of who gets elected.

Because of the battle over redistricting, Maryland’s primary has been pushed back three weeks to July 19. Elections officials say any date after Aug. 16 risks preparations for the Nov. 8 general election.

In a 58-page Monday court filing, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh told the Maryland Court of Appeals that it should deny the latest challenges to a special magistrate’s recommendation that the boundaries drawn by the General Assembly be upheld.

This requested information falls squarely within the scope of Maryland’s constitutional legislative privilege.

The filing argued key areas where legislative privilege could not be violated, including:

  • Who drafted the legislation;
  • What criteria, if any, were used to draft the legislation;
  • Who, if anyone, provided instructions to the drafters regarding what criteria should be used in drafting the challenged portions of the legislation;
  • What instructions, if any, were given to the drafters regarding those portions of the legislation.

“It is equally apparent that the information sought by petitioners — the details of who
did what and told what to whom during the legislative process — epitomizes the type of
information that is protected by legislative privilege,” the filing read.

Four petitions were filed with the magistrate arguing that the map, as drawn by lawmakers, violates the Maryland constitution’s requirements that districts be compact.

You can read the full filing here.

WTOP’s Matthew Delaney contributed to this report.

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Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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