The U.S. Supreme Court announced Friday afternoon that it would be reviewing a lower court decision by a panel of three federal judges in November that mandated that Maryland redraw the boundaries of the Sixth Congressional District in time for the 2020 election.
The original lawsuit in the case alleged that a number of Republican voters had been disenfranchised following the 2011 redraw of Maryland’s congressional districts. That change expanded the district to include more Democratic voters in Montgomery County.
A large portion of Northwestern Montgomery County lies in the Sixth District.
Republican Roscoe Bartlett represented the district in the House from 1993 to 2013, but was defeated by Democrat John Delaney in the 2012 general election, which was the first held after the redrawing. Delaney went on to win reelection twice more, and Democrat David Trone won the seat this year.
Attorney General Brian Frosh appealed the federal court ruling, alleging that there was no infringement on the rights of Republican voters, with Trone filing an amicus brief.
Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has appointed a nine-member commission consisting of three Democrats, three Republicans and three independents to redraw the district lines by April 2. Hogan’s spokeswoman Amelia Chasse indicated in an email Friday afternoon that the court’s review of the case would not interrupt the commission’s work.
“As the law currently stands, this district is unconstitutional and must be redrawn, which means that we need to put in place a process to redraw the district in an open and transparent manner, and do so in time to involve our legislative partners. Now more than ever the commission’s work is essential to ensure Maryland is in a position to comply with the law and the Supreme Court’s ruling,” she wrote.
The commission met for the first time Friday, just hours prior to the high court’s announcement. The nine members will be holding hearings in Frederick County, Montgomery County and Western Maryland on Jan. 14, Jan. 31 and Feb. 6 respectively.
A member of the commission, who asked not to be named, said he wasn’t sure how the court’s review of the case would impact their work. But he noted that regardless of the high court’s decision, Maryland will have to redraw all of its districts following the 2020 census, in time for the 2022 elections.
Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.email@example.com