Maryland and North Carolina Redistricting Maps Headed to Court

Maryland’s map has Blacks and Republicans joining forces.

Posted: 11/11/2011 03:14 PM EST

Nine Maryland voters filed a legal challenge to the state’s new redistricting map this week because they believe it dilutes minority voting power. The suit, which is being spearheaded by the Fannie Lou Hammer Political Action Committee, has captured the attention and support of the state’s Republican Party and the Iowa-based Legacy Foundation, which has agreed to help pay for legal costs, the Baltimore Sun reports.

 

Democrats drew the map in a way that would make it make it more difficult for a Republican House member to win another term in Congress, but it preserves the two seats held by Black lawmakers Elijah Cummings and Donna Edwards. And, should Minority Whip Steny Hoyer decide to retire, his seat would provide the opportunity to elect a third African-American to the House. Edwards objects to the map because it divides minorities in the ethnically diverse Montgomery County into three districts represented by white men.

 

The NAACP and other civil rights groups have filed a suit in North Carolina because the new redistricting maps boundaries “illegally cluster black voters to decrease their overall electoral power statewide and divide communities,” the Associated Press reports.

 

"They are using racially motivated maps for political aspiration," said Rev. William Barber, president of North Carolina NAACP chapter. "They are willing to go backward and to re-segregate, suppress, dilute, diminish and split the power of the African-American vote in order to accomplish their narrow-minded political agenda."

 

Republicans, however, say that the map provides African-Americans with “unprecedented opportunities” to become members of the state’s general assembly.

 

In Chicago, Illinois, Black and Latino aldermen are grappling with finding a way to increase representation that will reflect the latter demographic’s substantial population growth while preserving the same number of Black aldermen even though the city’s Black population has experienced a significant decrease according to the 2010 census, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Each side has drafted a new map and have begun talking about how they can work together to reach their goals.

 

“We’re in substantial agreement about the numbers and that there’s a possibility of it being done. Where we could potentially get into trouble is politically,” Black Caucus chair Howard Brookins told the publication. “That is, how does it affect the other wards and will we be able to get 40 aldermen to sign on to that?”

(Photo: NC General Assembly)

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