A group that aims to elect Democrats to the U.S. House of Representatives wants to help defend Maryland’s new congressional map in a lawsuit.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) filed a motion to intervene in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court last week.
In that motion, which was not available in court records but released Monday by Fair Maps Maryland, an anti-gerrymandering group with ties to Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R), attorneys for the DCCC argue that if the new maps are thrown out the committee “will suffer direct injury because the districts their members of Congress have run in previously, and will run in again in 2022, will be changed.”
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit want the state’s new congressional map thrown out and candidate filing deadlines pushed back until a new one is drawn up, charging that the plan passed by the Democratic majority in the Maryland General Assembly violates the state’s constitution.
The group challenging the map is made up of Republican voters from all eight of Maryland’s congressional districts, including two state delegates: Del. Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore and Harford) and Del. Christopher T. Adams (R-Lower Shore).
Maryland’s law allows individuals and groups to intervene, or become a party to, cases that directly affect their interests.
In the filing, attorneys for the DCCC, including Democratic voting rights attorney Marc Elias, argue that state officials who are currently defendants in the lawsuit don’t adequately represent the campaign committee’s goal to elect Democrats to congress.
“The existing Defendants are state officials who have an undeniable interest in defending the duly enacted laws of Maryland and conducting elections under those laws,” the motion reads. “Defendants do not share [our] interest in ensuring its members of Congress have an opportunity to compete in and win congressional elections in properly constituted districts.”
The General Assembly overrode a veto from Hogan to enact the new congressional map at a special session in December. The districts were drawn up by the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission, a panel convened by House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) and Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City).
Jones and Ferguson were both members of that commission, alongside two other Democratic legislative leaders and two Republican legislative leaders. The panel was chaired by Karl Aro, a former head of the nonpartisan Department of Legislative Services.
The Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission aimed to keep as many voters in their existing districts as possible in drawing up the congressional map.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit argue that the map splits up voters “in a way which ensures that Republicans do not have a vote share majority in any congressional district.”
Plaintiffs also take issue with the 1st Congressional District’s new boundaries, which cross over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to include a portion of central Anne Arundel County with the Eastern Shore. That change is set to make the once solidly Republican 1st District more competitive in the upcoming election.
The lawsuit focuses on state law rather than federal law. The U.S. Supreme Court opted not to weigh in on state-level partisan gerrymandering in the Benisek v. Lamone case, which centered around Maryland’s 6th Congressional District as it was drawn in 2011.
Fair Maps Maryland spokesperson Doug Mayer, a former communications strategist for Hogan, slammed the DCCC’s move to intervene in a press release.
“The leadership of the Maryland legislature can try to hide behind their well-funded DC allies, but they can’t hide from the truth,” Mayer said. “Gerrymandering is wrong, they are clearly guilty of it, and they will reap the whirlwind soon enough.”
Mayer also criticized Elias, a prominent attorney who opposed lawsuits seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, for defending Maryland’s congressional map while supporting lawsuits against redistricting plans in Republican-controlled states like North Carolina.