Illinois redistribution lawsuit to be heard in early December | Government-and-politics


SPRINGFIELD – A panel of three federal court judges on Friday set the week of December 6 as the date it will hear three consolidated cases challenging new maps of legislative districts drawn by Democrats and enacted by Governor JB Pritzker earlier this year. .

In a status conference by teleconference on Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert M. Dow Jr., who chairs the panel, said that while all the logistics had not been worked out, the hearing was will most likely be held in person in the ceremonial courtroom of the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago.

State lawmakers approved the new maps in a special session in August following the delayed release of detailed data from the 2020 U.S. Census. Pritzker promulgated them on September 24.

The maps establish the boundaries of the 118 Illinois House Districts and the 59 State Senate Districts. But three groups of plaintiffs are suing in federal court, arguing that the redistribution plan violates both the U.S. Constitution and the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Each of the lawsuits claims that the new maps divide concentrated areas of minority voters who tend to vote en bloc, depriving them of their right to elect candidates of their choice.

A lawsuit, filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF, focuses exclusively on the largely Latin American areas of Chicago and its southwestern suburbs.

Another, filed by the East St. Louis branch of the NAACP and other civil rights groups, argues that the new maps in East St. Louis and the eastern metropolitan area unfairly divide the black voting population in LaToya Greenwood District. to protect white Democratic incumbents in neighboring districts.

The other lawsuit, filed by Republican General Assembly leaders Sen. Dan McConchie and Representative Jim Durkin, along with their respective GOP caucuses, makes many of the same points as the other two cases.

The three lawsuits name the Illinois State Council of Elections, Senate Speaker Don Harmon and Speaker of the House Emanuel “Chris” Welch as defendants.

Dow said the case is being put on an accelerated timeline to accommodate the 2022 election cycle. Under the current timeline, candidates can begin circulating nominating petitions on January 13 and these petitions must be submitted to the State Council of Elections the week of March 7-14. To do this, however, applicants must know in which district they will be running.

During Friday’s status conference, all plaintiffs agreed to submit their proposed appeals to court by Wednesday, November 10. This gives the defendants until Monday, November 22 to file their response.

Sean Berkowitz, an attorney representing Harmon and Welch, said he did not intend to submit a new plan but would instead defend the maps adopted by the General Assembly. A lawyer for the State Electoral Council said she had no intention of submitting any documents and would just “passively monitor” the proceedings.

Lawyers for each of the plaintiffs said they did not plan to redesign the 177 House and Senate districts, but would focus only on the areas of the state they are contesting.

It would be the Metro East region for the NAACP, parts of Cook County for the MALDEF, and the Metro East and Chicago regions for the Republican plaintiffs.

In addition to Dow, the other two justices hearing the case are U.S. District Judge Jon DeGuilio, Chief Justice of the Northern District of Indiana, and Judge Michael B. Brennan of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. .


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