U.S. Rep. David J. Trone, a freshman Democrat, is defending the contours of Maryland’s 6th District after a federal court ruled that it was unconstitutionally drawn.
In an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court Wednesday, Trone and his lawyers asked the justices to reverse a November ruling that struck down Maryland’s congressional map because of its partisan underpinnings, ordering that a new map be drawn by March.
Maryland’s Democratic Attorney General Brian E. Frosh appealed the ruling, to the chagrin of Republican Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. The Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments in the case on March 26.
Hogan late last year selected members of a nonpartisan commission to redraw the districts. The commission is expected to produce a proposed map in late March, but it is unlikely that the General Assembly will act on it before adjourning on April 8.
Trone’s district is at the heart of the case.
After state Democrats’ 2011 redistricting, Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett was ousted by Democrat John K. Delaney, who retired to challenge President Trump in 2020. Trone won the seat in November.
“Mr. Trone believes the people of the district today, while broadly split among the two major political parties, are not deeply conservative or liberal, but instead are united by a pragmatism and industriousness that suits his background and personality,” says his brief to the court.
“He is honored to be their representative and hopes they re-elect him in 2020. He desires that the sixth district retain its current form until then.”
The brief says that while the redrawn district “is not perfectly geometric – a near impossibility in Maryland” — it is “reasonably compact and cohesive given Maryland’s odd shape and the constitutional requirement of proportionate representation.”
Trone and his lawyers urge the court to determine that such “reasonably compact and cohesive” districts aren’t subject to gerrymandering challenges, even if the maps were intended to change the district’s prevailing party affiliation.
Trone notes that he’s co-sponsoring legislation in the House that would mandate independent redistricting commissions nationwide that could thwart or eliminate partisan redistricting.
“The elimination of partisan gerrymandering is a desirable goal, but only Congress can fashion a remedy that applies uniformly throughout the Nation, and then monitor and adjust the remedy as circumstances warrant and the electorate wishes,” the brief says.
Robin Bravender is Washington bureau chief for States Newsroom.