Three Judges To Rule On State’s Redistricting Maps

By Benjamin Cox on July 16, 2021 at 4:32pm

The Chicago U.S. Federal Courthouse. (Credit: U.S. courts)

A panel of 3 judges will rule on whether the Illinois General Assembly currently under Democrats control violated the Constitution when they drew the state’s new legislative maps using American Community Surveys statistics.

According to Capital News Illinois, Lawyers for plaintiffs and the state told the panel of federal judges Wednesday the issues involved in two lawsuits challenging the state’s legislative redistricting plan are “straightforward” and ought to be resolved in short order.

The two lawsuits — one by Republican legislative leaders and another by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, or MALDEF — both argue that the new state House and Senate district maps violate the U.S. Constitution because they were drawn using survey data rather than official U.S Census numbers, which have been delayed this year due to the pandemic and other factors. Lawyers for the two suits also argue that the maps violate the “one person, one vote” principle under the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. The suits are asking for an independent commission be created to draw the maps.

Both suits name the Illinois State Board of Elections and its individual members as well as Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch and Senate President Don Harmon as defendants.

Those two cases have since been consolidated and assigned to a three-judge panel, as is required under federal law whenever a suit challenges the constitutionality of a redistricting plan. Those include Judge Robert Dow Jr., of the Northern District of Illinois; Judge Jon E. DeGuilio, of the Northern District of Indiana, and Judge Michael B. Brennan, of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

After the hearing on Wednesday, the panel issued an order directing all parties to begin lining up their expert witnesses and setting a schedule of deadlines for filing briefs. The case is tentatively set for trial September 27th-29th.