With U.S. Supreme Court
Brief Supports Benisek v. Lamone Plaintiffs, Attests to Harmful Effects of Partisan Gerrymandering
Governor Larry Hogan joined with former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to file an amicus curiae brief with the United States Supreme Court in support of the plaintiffs in Benisek v. Lamone, the case involving Maryland’s gerrymandered 6th Congressional District. Governors Hogan and Schwarzenegger argued in their brief that gerrymandered districts promote political extremes in both parties and drown out the voices of moderate voters. After a panel of federal court judges unanimously ruled in November 2018 that the 6th district violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the defendants, represented by Attorney General Brian Frosh, appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Free and fair elections are the very foundation of our democracy, and it’s past time for leaders on both sides of the aisle to put an end to the disgraceful practice of partisan gerrymandering,” said Governor Hogan. “I thank Governor Schwarzenegger for his support of nonpartisan redistricting reform in Maryland and across the nation, and for joining in making this appeal to the highest court in the land. By upholding the unanimous federal court ruling, the Supreme Court will bring integrity to Maryland’s congressional districts and enable hundreds of thousands of our citizens to truly participate in elections.”
“The first three words of our Constitution are ‘We the People’ – not ‘We the Politicians.’ For 200 years, politicians have used the scam of partisan gerrymandering to put their own interests above the interests of the people, and it’s time for change. Since we passed our independent redistricting commission in California, the voters’ approval of our legislature have skyrocketed, and it’s no surprise. For the first time, voters are picking their politicians instead of the politicians picking their voters, and the competition and accountability have produced results that benefit all of the people. I am honored to stand with Governor Hogan in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to put the voters first.”
Maryland has long been known as the most gerrymandered state in the country, a practice that extends to both congressional and legislative districts. Several prominent Maryland politicians have been deposed in the case, including former Governor Martin O’Malley, House Speaker Mike Busch, and Senate President Mike Miller. Governor O’Malley has admitted to drawing maps with the “intent to create a district where the people would be more likely to elect a Democrat than a Republican,” as has a consultant who was hired to create the gerrymandered map.
Following the federal court’s ruling, Governor Hogan created the nonpartisan Emergency Commission on Sixth Congressional District Gerrymandering to develop a revised map to submit to the Maryland General Assembly. The commission’s draft congressional district map for the sixth and eighth districts was released on March 4 and is currently undergoing a public comment period until March 26, 2019. More information about the commission’s work can be found at https://governor.maryland.gov/free-and-fair. The governor has also – for the fourth year in a row – proposed legislation to create a permanent, nonpartisan redistricting process, which is currently pending before the Maryland General Assembly.
Governor Schwarzenegger has been on a crusade against partisan gerrymandering since he was elected as California’s 38th Governor. In 2008, led by the governor and a coalition of good government groups, California voters passed Proposition 11, creating California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw
state legislative lines, and two years later, voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 20 to extend the Commission’s power to draw congressional districts. Since he left office, Governor Schwarzenegger has brought his fight against partisan gerrymandering nationwide through the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy. Last year, he campaigned for successful redistricting reform initiatives in Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Colorado and Utah.