Judicial Watch and MDPetitions.com Ask Maryland’s Highest Court to Review Lawsuit Seeking Re-Vote on Maryland’s Gerrymandered Congressional Districts
AUGUST 22, 2014
Petition argues “few issues are as important as safeguarding the people’s rights to participate in their representative democracy.”
(Washington D.C.) – Judicial Watch announced that today it has filed a certiorari petition with Maryland’s highest court, the Maryland Court of Appeals, to review the intermediate appellate court’s ruling against Judicial Watch’s lawsuit seeking a re-vote on Question 5.
The lawsuit concerns a November 2012 referendum on Maryland’s statewide ballot over whether to repeal the state’s gerrymandered congressional redistricting plan. The lawsuit alleges that ballot language certified by Secretary of State McDonough was “impermissibly vague and misleading in violation of Maryland law.”
In the petition filed on behalf of Delegate Neil Parrott and MDPetitions.com, Judicial Watch argues:
The proper relief in this case would be for this Court to nullify the results of the referendum and require a re-vote on Question 5 – this time with an accurate description of a law which drastically reconfigured Maryland’s congressional districts…. Marylanders’ right to decide whether they want gerrymandered districts for the next five years remains critical.
Judicial Watch asked the Court of Appeals to accept review and overrule a July 23, 2014, decision by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals upholding the ballot language.
“The people of Maryland have now been effectively denied their constitutional rights twice. First they were denied the right to choose their own representation in Congress by Maryland’s gerrymandered redistricting bill, and then they were denied their right to approve or reject legislation at the ballot box,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “As our lawsuit makes clear, the gerrymandered map weakens the accountability of Maryland’s congressional representatives to the voters by both reducing competitive congressional races and dividing communities to prevent unified opinions about representatives. Voters were denied their right to referendum when they were purposefully misled by the vague and confusing ballot language in 2012. The right to self-governance has been undermined.”
At the time of the Question 5 referendum, voters were urged to vote “No” on Question 5 and repeal the gerrymandered congressional map by the editorial boards of the Baltimore Sun, the Annapolis Capital Gazette, the Carroll County Times, the Washington Post, the Washington Examiner, and Washington Jewish Week. When the districts were adopted, the Washington Post editorialized: “The map … mocks the idea that voting districts should be compact or easily navigable. The eight districts respect neither jurisdictional boundaries nor communities of interest. To protect incumbents and for partisan advantage, the map has been sliced, diced, shuffled and shattered, making districts resemble studies in cubism.” The referendum passed with the support of 64% of the voters.