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Germantown’s Congressional District Ruled Unconstitutional

On Tuesday David Trone won the election for Maryland’s Sixth Congressional District, which encompasses the entire Germantown area, from Potomac north to much of Frederick County and west to the Maryland border with West Virginia in Garrett County.

On Wednesday, a three-judge panel in the United States District Court ruled that the boundaries of the Maryland Sixth District were unconstitutional, and ruled that new boundaries had to be drawn before the 2020 election and the boundaries would be redrawn again prior to the 2022 election after the data from the 2020 census was available.

The case, Benisek vs. Lamone, was brought by seven registered Republicans who challenged the constitutionality and the way the State of Maryland redrew the boundaries of the Sixth District in 2011. The plaintiffs contend that Democrats in Annapolis redrew the district’s lines to envelop parts of heavily Democratic Montgomery County.

Prior to the district being redrawn longtime Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett held the seat but lost after the addition of Montgomery County to the district allowing Montgomery County Democrat and current Congressman, Rep. John Delaney to win the seat. Delaney gave up the seat this year to run for president in the 2020 election. In January, the seat will go to another Democrat from Montgomery County, Congressman-elect David Trone.

According to the ruling, “The registered voters removed from the former Sixth District were predominately Republican, while those added were predominately Democratic. Specifically, in the precincts removed from the Sixth District, there were on average approximately 1.5 times as many registered Republicans as Democrats. By contrast, in the precincts added to Sixth District, registered Democrats outnumbered Republicans by more than 2 to 1. In total, the reshuffling of the Sixth District’s voters resulted in a net reduction of roughly 66,000 registered Republicans and a net increase of some 24,000 registered Democrats, for a swing of about 90,000 voters.”

The ruling, written by Circuit Judge Paul Niemeyer, Chief District James Bredar, and District Judge George Russell said, “with respect to the mapmakers’ intent, the process described in the record admits of no doubt. Maryland Democratic officials worked to establish Maryland’s congressional district boundaries in 2011 with a narrow focus on diluting the votes of Republicans in the Sixth Congressional District in an attempt to ensure the election of an additional Democratic representative in the State’s congressional delegation.”

Gov. Larry Hogan has made the gerrymandering of districts in Maryland a top concern since taking office in 2014. “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.

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