Tag Archives: redistricting reform

Supreme Court tackles redistricting again — the Maryland implications

The U.S. Supreme Court has now agreed to hear a much-watched Wisconsin case, Gill v. Whitford, inviting it to reconsider its position that the Constitution does not create a judicial remedy for partisan gerrymandering. Should the Court uphold the challenge to Wisconsin districts, the implications for Maryland would be immediate and dramatic, since Maryland’s gerrymander is more extreme than Wisconsin’s and there is good evidence on the record (thanks in part to recent depositions from top officials) that its motivations were political. I joined Bryan Nehmen on WBAL yesterday to discuss how this affects the Maryland debate.

I also wrote a piece for Cato on the national implications, cautioning that the euphoria in some circles about an impending change in the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence is at best premature. The Justices by a 5-4 margin stayed the lower court order from Wisconsin, which hints, at least, that Justice Anthony Kennedy might not be persuaded by the advocates hoping to get him to open wide the door he left open in his 2004 concurrence in Vieth v. Jubelirer.

A couple of additional relevant Maryland links from before the decision: Nancy Soreng and Jennifer Bevan-Dangel in the Washington Post (“Maryland shouldn’t wait for other states to start redistricting”); Karen Hobert Flynn, The Hill;
Kojo Nnamdi show last month with Ashley Oleson (MRRC colleague, but no relation) and Del. Kirill Reznik (D-Montgomery County); Yael Grauer/Yes! (“Has Arizona Found a Solution to Gerrymandering?”, discussing Maryland reform efforts).

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Policy

Redistricting: the six-state compact idea doesn’t cut it

On Tuesday the Baltimore Sun ran any op-ed that I co-authored with Judge Alexander Williams, Jr., with whom I serve as co-chairs of the Maryland Redistricting Reform Commission:

By an overwhelming majority, Marylanders support the idea of having an independent commission rather than incumbent lawmakers draw district lines for Maryland elections. The margin was 73 to 19 percent in a February Goucher Poll, with support running roughly the same among registered Democrats, Republicans and independents.

Yet a bill passed by the legislature this session would instead have kicked the issue of redistricting reform down the road unless five other nearby states all agree to pass similar bills — something no one expects to happen.

As co-chairs of the Maryland Redistricting Reform Commission, which Gov. Larry Hogan established in 2015 to devise a better system for drawing district lines, we support Governor Hogan’s May 8 veto of that bill. The proposal for a “Mid-Atlantic Regional Compact” is a frivolous distraction in place of a willingness to tackle reform seriously….

Read the full piece here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Policy

In miniature, May 7

  • Governor should keep the redistricting issue in play: “Hogan has backing — from the general public, from all those sick of gerrymandering and interested in responsible government and from a long-term national trend.” [Capital Gazette] “U.S. judge: Miller, Busch must testify, turn over documents in redistricting case” [Washington Post]
  • Also on the redistricting topic, I was a guest on the Kojo Nnamdi show on the topic during session, with former Del. Aisha Braveboy and Maryland Republican chair Dirk Haire [listen]
  • No thanks, let’s keep the farebox recovery rule, in which Maryland shows itself more fiscally prudent than many states with mass transit systems [Brian O’Malley, Greater Greater Washington]
  • Two liability-expanding decisions from the Maryland Court of Appeals, May v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp. (duty to warn of asbestos in other companies’ products) and Spangler v. McQuitty (wrongful death action can be filed notwithstanding earlier assertion of personal injury action) made it into American Tort Reform Association’s Judicial Hellholes report last year;
  • The Slants, band whose name is the subject of a trademark case before the U.S. Supreme Court, play Frederick [Ronald K. L. Collins, Concurring Opinions]
  • “Maryland Decriminalizes Unlicensed Barbering; Jacks Up Fines for Unlicensed Barbering” [Eric Boehm/Reason]

1 Comment

Filed under Roundups

In miniature, November 13

1 Comment

Filed under Roundups

In miniature, August 8

  • MoCo Executive Leggett stifles a plan to make county dealings with labor unions more transparent [Bill Turque, Washington Post]
  • “Shank: Criminal justice overhaul will lead to better outcomes in Maryland” [Herald-Mail]
  • “Why in the world would the P.G. police dept. choose this particular cop to host a ride-along with a reporter?” [Radley Balko]
  • Baltimore’s regulatory blockade: lawsuit challenges grip of historic preservation laws [Nick Zaiac, Market Urbanism]
  • Been there. “Replacing Maryland E-ZPass transponder is not so easy” [Len Lazarick]
  • It’s something [that] shouldn’t be done by either party in any state.” Larry Hogan talks gerrymandering [Danielle Gaines, Frederick News-Post]

1 Comment

Filed under Roundups

In miniature, July 29

  • “It ought to be possible to terminate cops short of criminal convictions for incidents like that involving Gray’s” [Ed Krayewski; more from Reason on police unions here, here, and here]
  • Will national Dems throw away redistricting issue by installing Martin O’Malley, author of nation’s worst gerrymander, as DNC chair? [Baltimore Fishbowl, Jonathan Shurberg/Maryland Scramble] Despite discomfort in Annapolis, it’s “in Democrats’ best interests to fight gerrymandering on all fronts” [Eli Briody-Pavlik, Maryland Reporter] Gerrymandering’s effect within a party can be as powerful as its effect in contests between parties [J. Miles Coleman on District 8 Dem primary]
  • 5-part series on StingRay [cell phone tracking] use in Maryland law enforcement [Courtney Mabeus, Maryland Reporter]
  • Should create an opening for the local GOP, right? Montgomery County plans a massive 8.7 percent property tax hike with spending binge to match [Adam Pagnucco, The Seventh State]
  • Homeowners in Cumberland, Md., resist city’s eminent domain plans [Save Rolling Mill via Institute for Justice]
  • I criticized “Grace’s Law,” the Maryland statute criminalizing some online actions causing distress to minors, at the time; now a Eugene Volokh amicus challenges it on First Amendment grounds [Volokh Conspiracy]

1 Comment

Filed under Roundups

Gov. Hogan on redistricting reform

While redistricting reform did not pass this year — or even get a committee or floor vote from the ruling Democrats — Gov. Larry Hogan will “probably come back and fight some more. It’s an issue I really care about.” [Len Lazarick interview, Maryland Reporter]

Leave a comment

Filed under Policy

In miniature, April 22

Leave a comment

Filed under Roundups

Gov. Hogan’s “Dear Mr. President” letter on redistricting reform

Gov. Larry Hogan has written a letter to President Barack Obama and it’s great:

March 31, 2016
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington DC, 20500

Dear Mr. President,

It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to meet with you at the White House last month during the National Governor’s Association winter meeting in Washington DC. I am grateful for the commitment you made at the time to partner with the NGA to review burdensome federal regulations that may create unnecessary obstacles to economic development and job creation. That we can find common ground on this matter gives me hope that I may also be able to count on your support on another issue.

On April 11 the Maryland General Assembly’s 2016 legislative session will conclude, and with it Maryland’s best hope to reform what is widely regarded as the worst gerrymandering in the nation could also come to an end. As you said in your most recent State of the Union Address: “We have to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters, and not the other way around. Let a bipartisan group do it.”

On this issue, we are in complete agreement. Last year, my administration assembled a bipartisan task force to study redistricting. After months of work and public comment, the task force recommended that the state establish an independent commission to draw Congressional and legislative districts, eliminating the influence of elected officials and political parties. Unfortunately, this legislation has stalled in the Maryland General Assembly, and may not even come to the floor for a vote.

There are only days left in the legislative session, and next year, we may not have as strong an advocate in White House as you have been on this issue. With your intervention, I believe we could set things right in Maryland.

Of course, I will continue to fight for Marylanders regardless of what happens over the coming days or years. However, with the weight of the White House behind independent redistricting in Maryland, I know we can deliver real change and I am hopeful that you can take action to encourage Maryland’s lawmakers to bring this matter to the floor for a vote.

If there is anything I can do to help you or members of your administration make a case for fair redistricting in Maryland in the days ahead, my administration is at your disposal. I look forward to any steps you may be able to take and I offer my thanks for your attention to the matter.

Sincerely,
Larry Hogan
Governor of Maryland
State House, Annapolis, Maryland

I’ve taken the text of the letter from Washington Post reporter Josh Hicks’s Document Cloud posting, cleaning up errors arising from scanned character recognition when I spotted them; apologies for any errors I didn’t catch. Hicks’s coverage of the story is here. Excerpt:

Six states use nonpartisan redistricting committees to draw their voting maps, and the idea is broadly popular among Maryland residents. But leading Democrats, whose party holds large majorities in the House and the Senate, say they will not consider making Maryland’s system more balanced unless other states whose maps favor Republicans do the same.

More from Erin Cox at Baltimore Sun/Capital Gazette:

Leading Democrats have said they’re disinclined to approve a plan that changes Maryland’s congressional districts absent a national plan for all states to draw them differently.

The nonpartisan, voter-advocacy group Common Cause supports Hogan’s proposal, and executive director Jennifer Bevan-Dangel said Wednesday she was pleased the governor asked Obama to help.

And from Tamela Baker at the Hagerstown Herald-Mail:

But lawmakers also need to forward the administration’s redistricting-reform bill for “an up or down vote,” he said.

“There can be no possible excuse for keeping this bill hidden in a drawer and simply ignoring the will of nearly every person in Maryland,” he said.
Hogan’s bill, filed in both houses, would create an independent commission to redraw congressional and legislative district lines after each new census. But the measure has languished in committee in both chambers….

“This is a bipartisan issue supported by nearly all Marylanders. It’s time for the legislators to join with us and set an example for the entire nation,” Hogan said, challenging legislators to “set this bill free.”

More: video with the governor!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Policy