* 2:41 pm - Three top sources confirmed moments ago that the Republican challenge to the new congressional map was struck down by a three-judge federal panel today. Stay tuned for more info as it becomes available.
* Click the pick for a larger version, but this is the e-mail that was sent out by the federal court…
* 3:13 pm - No comment yet from the GOP plaintiffs’ spokesperson. Still working on getting a copy of the opinion. Stay tuned a few more minutes.
* Meanwhile, in Chicago…
In a sign of the continuing divisions among Chicago aldermen on how to draw new ward boundaries, a group of 16 including the entire Latino Caucus today filed its preferred map with the city clerk.
Latino, black and white aldermen have been negotiating without success for two weeks to reach agreement on a new map for the 50 wards that could win a 41-vote majority of the City Council and avoid the uncertainty of presenting competing proposals to voters in the March primary election.
*** 3:22 pm *** To read the opinion and order, click here.
* All emphasis added, but this is from the opinion…
As to the partisan gerrymander claims, although we agree with the Committee that the crafting of the Adopted Map was a blatant political move to increase the number of Democratic congressional seats, ultimately we conclude that the Committee failed to present a workable standard by which to evaluate such claims, therefore they fail under Vieth v. Jubelirer, 541 U.S. 267 (2004).
The Committee’s vote dilution claims fail because the Committee has not proven by a preponderance of the evidence that the state legislature intentionally discriminated against Latinos in passing the Adopted Map. Again, we acknowledge that Latino ethnicity was a factor in creating District 4 in 1991, but times have changed: the weight of the evidence shows that the predominant intent of the 2011 Illinois legislature in maintaining Adopted District 4 in substantially the same shape as when it was created in 1991 was a desire to enhance Democratic seats in the state as a whole, to keep Democratic incumbents in Districts 3, 4, and 5 with their constituents, to preserve existing district boundaries, and to maintain communities of interest. Because race was not the predominant factor, the Committee failed to meet its burden of proof on its racial gerrymander claims under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act or the Constitution. […]
…our conclusion that the Committee hasn’t shown intentional discrimination against Latinos dooms all three vote dilution counts. […]
The Committee has not proved the first Gingles precondition that the Latino minority group is large enough and geographically compact enough to be a majority in more single-member districts than the redistricting plan created. The Committee’s Map does not create two majority-minority Latino districts. District 4 under the Committee’s Map has 59.4 percent Latino voting-age population and District 3 has only 46.5 percent. […]
But, given the rule of thumb, and the need to account for Latinos within the voting-age population who are not citizens eligible to vote, we do not infer that 65.9 percent voting-age population of Latinos in Adopted District 4 suggests excessive packing… The addition of low Latino voting-age population areas to District 4 and exclusion of certain high voting-age population areas suggests that the state’s intent was not maximization of Latino voting-age population. […]
Further, as the Committee itself argues, the Adopted Map was drawn for predominantly political reasons, and we believe this is evident in Adopted Districts 3, 4 and 5. Maintaining substantially the same boundaries of District 4 allows Congressman Gutierrez to remain in a district with 82.3 percent of his current constituents. This in turn allowed the Democrats to draw Districts 3 and 5 with substantially the same boundaries, resulting in Congressman Lipinski’s remaining in a district with 76.4 percent of his constituents and Congressman Quigley in a district with 78.9 percent of his constituents. […]
The issue is whether District 4 was drawn to intentionally discriminate against Latinos. If the Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly crafted Adopted District 4 for reasons other than discriminatory intent, whether those reasons are legitimate state interests or not, the Committee cannot succeed. […]
The Committee contends that the Democrats want to keep Latinos out of District 3 to preserve Congressman Lipinski’s primary win because he has recently lost favor among Latinos on account of his stance on immigration. The state cannot draw district lines to exclude minorities merely because they might oppose an incumbent… Given that the Latino voting-age population in Cook County has nearly doubled since 1990 and is projected to continue increasing steadily, a 4.7 percent reduction in Latino voting-age population in Adopted District 3 doesn’t notably reduce the opportunity for a Latino candidate of choice to successfully run against Congressman Lipinski in the Democratic primary over the next decade. Additionally, the Committee presented little evidence, and certainly nothing convincing, that Latino voters in District 3 disfavor Congressman Lipinski. For example, the Committee did not offer Congressman Lipinski’s voting record on issues important to Latinos, or present examples of Latino organizations opposing his reelection.
Further, the Committee does not dispute Dr. Lichtman’s findings that in the 2010 primary election Congressman Lipinski received 57 percent of the Latino vote when running against a Latino candidate. […]
Neither do other relevant factors point to intentional discrimination against Latinos. Evidence that the redistricting process was “secretive” and excluded Republicans reveals partisan motivation, not racial discrimination. […]
Because the Board of Elections asserts that politics was the predominant factor in crafting Adopted District 4, it has made no attempt to justify the oddly shaped district under strict scrutiny.20 Despite the history of District 4, we agree with the Board of Elections that the predominant intent in maintaining the district in the Adopted Map was not race, but a desire to keep Democratic incumbents in Districts 3, 4, and 5 with their constituents, to preserve existing district boundaries, and to maintain communities of interest. […]
Preserving the core of prior districts and keeping incumbents with their constituents are legitimate redistricting objectives.
Keep in mind that two Republican justices from Indiana were on that three-judge panel.
*** 4:26 pm *** From a press release…
Statement of Illinois GOP Members of Congress Regarding Federal Ruling on Congressional Redistricting Case
“We are disappointed with the court’s ruling today, especially considering the very serious issues we raised in our challenge to the Democrats’ map, including discrimination against the state’s growing Latino population. We are in the process of reviewing the decision and evaluating our options for future action.
“Regardless of today’s decision, we continue to believe that fairness should be the driving principle in the redistricting process. A balanced congressional map is necessary to ensure that the people of Illinois have an opportunity to express their will at the ballot box and elect those representatives who best reflect their shared interests. Unfortunately, the Democrats who control state government decided instead to maximize their partisan advantage in the map-making process to serve their own interests. That kind of selfish approach to governing should never be tolerated.”