* US District Court in the Northern District of Illinois…
On May 28, 2021, the Illinois General Assembly approved a state legislative redistricting plan before the release of the official population totals from the 2020 United States decennial census. The pandemic delayed release of the official population totals, although the United States Census Bureau (“the Census Bureau”) had announced previously that those totals would be available by mid-August 2021. The Illinois General Assembly elected not to wait, and instead relied primarily on data from the American Community Survey (“ACS”), a population estimate previously published by the Census Bureau, to determine the boundaries of Illinois legislative districts. With Governor Pritzker’s signature, the General Assembly-approved redistricting plan (“the June Redistricting Plan”) became effective as of June 4, 2021.
Two sets of Plaintiffs filed lawsuits contending that use of the ACS data resulted in the drawing of constitutionally-flawed legislative district boundaries. Those cases have been consolidated before this three-judge court (“Court”) convened under 28 U.S.C. § 2284(a). In both cases, Plaintiffs allege that the June Redistricting Plan impermissibly violated their right to Equal Protection under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Defendants in both cases have moved to dismiss [McConchie, 66, 80], [Contreras, 40, 55] Plaintiffs’ first amended complaints1 [McConchie, 51], [Contreras, 37]. Following the release of the official Census data, Plaintiffs in each case moved for summary judgment [McConchie, 76], [Contreras, 63].
For the reasons stated below, the Court denies the motions to dismiss [McConchie, 66, 80], [Contreras, 40, 55] in full, except to the extent that Plaintiff Martinez is dismissed from the first amended complaint in Contreras, see . The Court also grants the Plaintiffs’ motions for summary judgment in full [Contreras, 63] and in part [McConchie, 76]. The Court declares that the June Redistricting Plan, Public Act 102-0010, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and enjoins the Defendant State Board of Elections and Defendant Members, Charles W. Scholz, Ian K. Linabarry, William M. McGuffage, William J. Cadigan, Katherine S. O’Brien, Laura K. Donahue, Casandra B. Watson, and William R. Haine, in their official capacities as members of the Illinois State Board of Elections, from enforcing Public Act 102-0010.
Finally, the Court will not require formal dispositive motion practice (e.g., motions under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b) and 56) on the second amended complaints and sets the schedule for the selection of a court-approved state redistricting map as follows: (1) Plaintiffs’ submissions for proposed revisions to the September Redistricting Plan, Public Act 102-0663, accompanied by a statement explaining how those revisions cure any constitutional or statutory defects in the September Redistricting Plan, are to be filed on the docket no later than November 8, 2021; (2) Defendants’ responses and objections to the submissions are to be submitted no later than November 18, 2021. This case is set for further status on November 5, 2021, at 11:00 a.m. […]
Taking into account the totality of the circumstances—both agreed and disputed—we will proceed therefore toward the approval of a map for Illinois legislative districts for the next decade using the September Redistricting Plan as a starting point, but also carefully considering the legal challenges raised in the operative second amended complaints. Having found the June Redistricting Plan unconstitutional and therefore reached the remedial phase of proceedings, the Court will not require formal dispositive motion practice (e.g., under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b) and 56) on the seconded amended complaints [McConchie, 116], [Contreras, 98]. To the extent that the September Redistricting Plan does not pass muster, Plaintiffs are invited to submit proposed alternative maps for the Court’s consideration accompanied by a statement explaining (1) the constitutional or statutory defects in the September Redistricting Plan and, (2) how the revisions or alternatives cure such defects. Defendants will likewise receive an opportunity to respond to the proposed alternative maps and accompanying assessment according to the schedule set out at the conclusion of this opinion.
In other words, the first version of the map has been tossed over unconstitutional population deviation between districts (the courts have long had a rule about that and the new Illinois map was in clear violation). The second version is now under judicial review because the court declared the first version unconstitutional. And the court has invited plaintiffs, meaning the Republicans and MALDEF, to submit their own alternative maps with specific emphasis on how their alternatives address the Democrats’ alleged defects.
Also, the court rejected the Republican claim that the failure to draw a constitutional map by the deadline triggers the state’s non-partisan remap commission process.
…Adding… Press release…
Below is a statement from Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) on Illinois’ redistricting maps being declared unconstitutional today in court:
“Today’s ruling is a victory for Illinois citizens, advocacy groups and communities of interest. During this process the Republican caucuses consistently demanded transparency and fairness in mapmaking, which were rejected by the Democrats and Governor Pritzker. The court’s ruling validates all the concerns that were raised during the Democrats’ unconstitutional attempt to gerrymander Illinois.”
Though Democratic lawmakers passed and Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the updated map last month, they did not repeal the earlier estimated-population map approved in May.
That prompted concerns that if the new map was ruled unconstitutional, the earlier map using population estimates would take effect. The court said it needed to rule on the unconstitutionality of the original map to prevent that from happening.