Jim Dey | Some Dems claim other Dems discriminated against them


When super-majority Democrats set out to eviscerate Republican presence in the General Assembly, they used bullets that came in the form of Black and Hispanic voters.

Now, those Black and Hispanic voters are firing back — at their fellow Democrats.

They argue in a federal lawsuit now approaching the finish line that Democratic leaders unlawfully diluted their groups’ representation to elect more White Democrats.

A three-judge federal panel last week said it would give “careful” consideration to claims the map is racially discriminatory.

The contentious redistricting debate is about numbers — how much bigger will the Democrats’ super-majority become, how many majority-minority districts will the new map contain, how many Republicans will survive?

The public doesn’t pay much attention to redistricting, even though there’s a lot riding on how it’s done.

The map-drawing process establishes the geographic boundaries of state House and Senate districts.

How maps are drawn determines, in many cases, which party wins the legislative majorities that determine public policy.

But the ongoing legal fight involves a different, hugely divisive subject — Black and Hispanic residents seeking majority/minority districts commensurate with their population statewide.

Valerie Leonard, who represents African Americans for Equitable Representation, argues the proposed map reduces majority Black House districts to eight and Senate districts to four, well below what she argues the group’s roughly 14 percent of the state population requires.

Hispanic residents contend the number of majority Hispanic districts would fall from five to four in the House and three to two in the Senate — far less than their 18.2 percent of Illinois’ population mandates.

While Republicans are on the litigation’s periphery — they, too, contend they’ve also been denied adequate representation — a Black/Hispanic victory would help the GOP because the maps would have to be redrawn.

“This is heading to a court-drawn map,” Republican state Sen. Chapin Rose gleefully predicted after the federal court last week struck down the first version of the Dems’ remap on constitutional grounds.

Perhaps, but it’s hardly a fait accompli. The three-judge panel noted that “reapportionment is primarily the duty of the state through its legislature … rather than a federal court.”

At the same time, the courts must determine the validity of claims that the map is constitutionally flawed and, if necessary, oversee corrections.

Owing to the decennial U.S. Census, Springfield is awash in maps — state legislative and judicial maps and congressional maps.

Democratic versions of all three have the GOP howling in protest.

There almost certainly will be litigation challenging the Democrats’ recently released congressional maps.

But the current litigation concerns state maps — of which there were two.

Democrats used improper population estimates to pass a June map.

They passed a second map in September that used U.S. Census numbers to eliminate population disparities present in the first map.

The three-judge panel struck down as unconstitutional the first map because its population disparities among districts violated the “one man, one-vote” guideline.

The second map meets the “one-man, one vote” guideline but allegedly discriminates against minority voters.

The court also indicated that, as part of its review, it will consider claims that map-drawers worked in secret and quickly passed the map to avoid public scrutiny.

The judges wrote that “ultimately, plaintiffs say, the General Assembly approved a new map in a single day … within hours of releasing the version it enacted into law.”

That’s the Illinois way of passing important measures into law.

While the legislature is free to set its own rules as to how it proceeds, it’s not free to trample the U.S. Constitution in the process.

The question here is whether super-majority Democrats ran off the rails in their hyper-partisan zeal.

The court’s answer has potentially momentous consequences.

via The News-Gazette

October 26, 2021 at 05:56PM

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