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Federal court tosses out first legislative remap, will now look at redo remap

Tuesday, Oct 19, 2021

* 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 [37]. 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.”

…Adding… Tribune

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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

34 Comments
  1. - DaBlues - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 1:02 pm:

    What a huge blow for the Republicans. Going to a commission was their only chance to possibly get a majority.


  2. - Shield - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 1:07 pm:

    Legally, how is the suit against the spring map active considering that it was superseded by the fall map? Obviously it’s the same people and some, but not all, of the same issues, but it wasn’t in effect anymore even before this ruling.


  3. - PublicServant - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 1:08 pm:

    McConchie - “Wait, we gotta draw a fair map now…uhm.”


  4. - hisgirlfriday - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 1:12 pm:

    @Shield - The opinion states that the law that passed the maps in June was never repealed.


  5. - Norseman - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 1:19 pm:

    === … 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. ===

    The big concern that drove the Dem tactic. So it looks like the GOP hail Mary fails. We’ll now see if the GOP can submit a map to the court that will address minority representation issues and substantively change partisan biases.

    What kind of hit the Dems will take for its poor decisions on Hispanic representation is yet to be determined by the courts?


  6. - Nagidam - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 1:25 pm:

    ===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.===

    That’s the whole game for the Republicans. Now, they actually have to draw a map and explain why their map will be “More” constitutional than the Dem map.


  7. - Wheaton - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 1:27 pm:

    The opinion also states that if the June maps were repealed, then the Commission would come into play. Since the Court found the June maps unconstitutional, the Court will review the September map as the starting point and consider arguments in shaping a possible new map.


  8. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 1:27 pm:

    ===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.===

    Love this.

    Wanna play? Show your map.

    Just gonna say “we good”?

    Hope they saved some dough to draw one.

    Would be ironic if Republicans could draw 60/30 maps that legally meet the judge’s asks… or more ironic if the GOP maps concede they can’t get to 60/30 in a map process… legally?


  9. - Frank talks - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 1:39 pm:

    Be interesting to see if the GOP or MALDEF are willing to throw up their own map for public consumption. I’m guessing they have one but are they willing to put in public?


  10. - regnaD kciN - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 1:54 pm:

    What would be interesting would be if a truly nonpartisan map would be drawn/submitted that meets all of the minority representation concerns and yet the districts drawn would be relatively compact and contiguous. Sad to say, I won’t hold my breath.


  11. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 1:55 pm:

    Waiting for those maps…should be interesting.


  12. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 1:56 pm:

    - regnaD kciN -

    You could draw them.

    The software is available. Have at it.


  13. - DaBlues - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 1:56 pm:

    ==== - Wheaton - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 1:27 pm:

    The opinion also states that if the June maps were repealed, then the Commission would come into play. Since the Court found the June maps unconstitutional, the Court will review the September map as the starting point and consider arguments in shaping a possible new map. ===

    This right here is why you always hire good lawyers


  14. - regnaD kciN - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 2:03 pm:

    -You could draw them.

    The software is available. Have at it.-

    What’s your consulting fee O.W.? Would love your input.


  15. - Candy Dogood - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 2:08 pm:

    ===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. ===

    Well, good.


  16. - Annonin' - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 2:19 pm:

    Oh oh… Court sez
    ” 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.”
    This means Durkie and his whiz kids will need to show a map….all those millions spend on lunch wasted…now they will need to fire up their secret room, lock and all, for a little work. Scary


  17. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 2:21 pm:

    === What’s your consulting fee? Would love your input.===

    Fees are always negotiable.

    - Norseman - handles all inquiries.

    For me, it would come down more to districts that can have reasonable chances in the suburbs with moderate candidates and still meeting VRA parameters.

    Be well


  18. - Donnie Elgin - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 2:47 pm:

    “What a huge blow for the Republicans. Going to a commission was their only chance to possibly get a majority”

    So the map the Dem’s produced is thrown out and it is a blow to the Republicans?


  19. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 2:57 pm:

    ===So the map the Dem’s produced is thrown out and it is a blow to the Republicans? ===

    That map was already defunct. The GOP’s biggest hope was triggering the commission. However, the Dems now have to deal with the judge on the new map.


  20. - DaBlues - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 3:01 pm:

    == - Donnie Elgin - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 2:47 pm:

    So the map the Dem’s produced is thrown out and it is a blow to the Republicans? ==

    The democrats drew two maps. The court invalidated the first map. The second one is the one that matters, and the court did not enjoin that one. A map is in effect. The Republicans only hope was a commission and they lost that.


  21. - fs - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 3:07 pm:

    == The Republicans only hope was a commission and they lost that.==

    It might have been their preferred hope, but it was not their only hope. The September map’s day may very well be numbered, and a map written by the Court with partial input from Republicans isn’t the worst case scenario for the minority.


  22. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 3:10 pm:

    === The September map’s day may very well be numbered, and a map written by the Court with partial input from Republicans isn’t the worst case scenario for the minority.===

    Why would any court ask Republican input if they refuse to submit a map as asked?

    I dunno if being asked to submit a map is any sort of win for Republicans at this point.

    “We’ll see”


  23. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 3:18 pm:

    To the adding;

    === “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.”===

    So they’re not “looking forward to submitting a map to show fairness”?

    So much is unsaid… it’s like “win the day”, and deal with it tomorrow?


  24. - Socially DIstant watcher - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 3:29 pm:

    Everybody’s waiting to see the GOP and MALDEF maps; what about the big transparency and public participation effort that absolutely has to happen in order to claim the map is fair??? When are the GOP and MALDEF public hearings going to be announced??


  25. - I'm so Mappy - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 3:49 pm:

    Just like national Dems drew the congressional maps, state GOP will get national support from national GOP on their map effort now. They have experience drawing state maps that pass federal court standards.


  26. - TheInvisibleMan - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 3:55 pm:

    The GOP isn’t going to stick their neck out to draw a map.

    The only purpose the GOP has for the court system is to get stories into the news cycle with their claims, no matter how invalid their claims are. Associating their claims with some sort of court proceeding lends legitimacy to the claims.

    Like any of the dozens of failed mask lawsuits the GOP and their supporters have been behind, this will never be mentioned again.


  27. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 4:02 pm:

    === Just like national Dems drew the congressional maps, state GOP will get national support from national GOP on their map effort now.===

    Will there be public hearings, an open process?

    I didn’t read any words in the Republican response that they were drawing maps, only that they don’t like the maps, and agree with the judge that the maps were bad.


  28. - 4 percent - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 4:06 pm:

    It’s unlikely but the judges could take over the map process and use the GOP maps. I highly doubt that they would subvert the legislative process but if they have stricken two maps, its a possibility.


  29. - Norseman - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 5:17 pm:

    === Just like national Dems drew the congressional maps, state GOP will get national support from national GOP on their map effort now. ===

    I’ve not seen anything that said DCCC drew the map. Both caucuses received equal amounts of tax money to draw the maps. The GOP caucus can and probably already have drawn maps. Also, don’t fall for their transparency schtick.


  30. - Louis G Atsaves - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 5:24 pm:

    So a Federal Judge strongly declared the June Redistricting Plan violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? The Redistricting Plan of the Democratic Supermajority of the Legislature as enacted by the Democratic Governor of Illinois?

    That’s the real headline here.

    The subheadline is did the Democrats including our esteemed Governor who made a promise not to sign unfair or gerrymandered maps cure their prior unconstitutional actions?

    Not. A. Good. Look. Here.


  31. - NonAFSCMEStateEmployeeFromChatham - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 5:47 pm:

    Bring on Bedsheet Ballot II. Top 59 finishers statewide to the Senate, the next 118 finishers to the House.


  32. - Norseman - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 6:01 pm:

    LOL Louis.

    What I saw was a moot map enacted to prevent the GOP hope of triggering the redistricting commission served its purpose. Now for the arguments about the real map.


  33. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 6:04 pm:

    === Not. A. Good. Look. Here.===

    How many folks are voting because of the map?

    That’s the politics here.

    For Pete’s sake, “crime” polled 4th out of 5 overall and in the suburbs, signing maps at this point seems frivolous im polling comparison.

    I can agree with ya on it, I’m disappointed, but the bet is… it won’t matter


  34. - From DaZoo - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 9:33 pm:

    The IL GOP claims victory. However it looks like they only thing they can currently claim is helping clean up an “oversight” by the Legislators and Governor by not repealing the original map when they signed a second one into law.

    We all knew there would be a long road of lawsuits to follow the map making process. Just need to pace ourselves with the popcorn and drinks.


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