For years the mainstream media has been writing about how Republicans want to draw new legislative districts to favor GOP candidates and at the same time block Blacks and Hispanics from getting districts that favor their candidates.
Well, this is a case where a man bites the dog; where Republican legislative leaders in Illinois filed a lawsuit Wednesday trying to prevent the recently passed redistricting map from taking effect because it violates the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Yes, that is correct. According to Illinois Statehouse News, the lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois by Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont, Republican Assembly Leader Tom Cross of Oswego, and several black and Hispanic residents.
The suit alleges that blacks and Hispanics had not been given adequate input into how the new map was crafted, and this makes the new map askew of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“We are optimistic that the court will agree with us and will help give our residents a fair map that accurately reflects our population, especially our growing Latino population,” Cross said.
One such district the lawsuit points to is the newly created House District 23, on the south side of Chicago. The new district has a Hispanic voting age population of 46.3 percent, but the demographics of the surrounding area are such that a majority Hispanic voting age population district could have been created. In other words, mapmakers short-changed Hispanic voters by making them a voting minority in the district.
The lawsuit also singles out the downstate, 96th District that runs from the east side of Springfield to parts of Decatur.
“Certain of the [sic] districts in the Redistricting Plan including, but not limited to, Representative District 96, are of a shape so bizarre on their face that the shape can only rationally be understood to be an effort to separate voters into different districts on the basis of race,” the lawsuit states. “No sufficient or neutral justification can exist for the bizarre shape of Representative District 96.”
This year was the first time since the adoption of the current state constitution in 1970 where one party — in this case the Democrats — controlled the Legislature and the governor’s office and therefore the whole redistricting process. That control allowed Democrats to create a map that puts them at a huge advantage over the GOP.
The GOP have outlined several different scenarios if they succeed in their lawsuit: The Legislature would have to redraw all or part of the map; an outside party could redraw the map; or a legislative redistricting commission outlined in the constitution could be tasked with redrawing the map.
When a decision on the lawsuit will come down has not been determined.