Maryland is one of the two most gerrymandered states and is home to the most gerrymandered district in America. The Washington Post has called Maryland “comically gerrymandered” and labeled its congressional districts “highly partisan and racially charged.”
Leading the Grassroots Fight
Common Cause Maryland has led a creative effort to bring attention to the problem of unfair representation in the General Assembly and among Maryland’s congressional delegation as part of the Tame the Gerrymander coalition. As a result of the coalition’s efforts, Gov. Larry Hogan created the Maryland Redistricting Reform Commission, a group of citizens tasked with recommending a new approach to redistricting that puts the needs of the people over the needs of politicians. The Commission, which included Common Cause Maryland board member Michael Goff, recommended the creation of an independent citizen commission to draw districts using objective and nonpartisan criteria in a transparent process. See the Commission’s recommendations here.
We are keeping up the pressure to pass these reforms through the legislature.
Shapiro v. McManus
Marylanders scored an important victory in the U.S. Supreme Court last year when the Court ruled in a unanimous decision that their First Amendment challenge to Maryland’s gerrymandered congressional districts must have its day in court. Previously, a trial judge threw out the case without allowing it to be heard by a three-judge panel, as is required in most challenges to redrawn maps. The lead plaintiff, Steve Shapiro, is an active Common Cause Maryland volunteer. Common Cause submitted an amicus brief supporting his view that the state’s congressional districts violate the First Amendment rights of Maryland residents. Hear Common Cause’s teleconference previewing oral arguments and read our attorney’s take on how they went.
Currently, Mr. Shapiro is awaiting a decision by the three-judge federal district court panel on the defendants’ motion to dismiss. Two of the three judges on that panel seemed supportive of Mr. Shapiro’s claims. Common Cause Maryland and our national redistricting team remain active participants supporting the plaintiffs
Tame the Gerrymander Events
Some of the coalition’s recent events spotlighting the problem of gerrymandering in Maryland include:
- An annual “birthday party” for Elbridge Gerry, the Massachusetts governor for whom the term “gerrymander” is named.
The Gerrymander Meander, a relay race around Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District, which The New Republic called the most gerrymandered district in America. It was nicknamed “the praying mantis” in a Washington Post district naming contest.
You can find information on Common Cause Maryland’s redistricting reform efforts on the Common Cause Maryland website or by contacting Common Cause Maryland Executive Director Jennifer Bevan-Dangel at 410-268-7470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.