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Federal Court Upholds New Illinois Congressional District Map

By Chuck Sudo in News on Dec 16, 2011 9:20PM


Last week a federal appeals court through out a lawsuit filed by Republicans contesting the redrawn districts for the Illinois General Assembly. Yesterday another federal court panel upheld the new congressional map drawn by Illinois Democrats.

The panel of Judges Joan Lefkow of the Northern District of Illinois, Robert Miller of the Northern District of Indiana and Daniel Tinder of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the argument by Illinois Republicans the new map was gerrymandered to hopefully lead to Democratic gains in next year's elections, but failed to "provide a workable standard" by which to evaluate such claims.

The Court also rejected arguments by the Illinois GOP that the new map discriminated against Hispanic voters. From the decision (included below).

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.

Illinois' Republican congressional delegation responded to the opinion. (Via Capitol Fax)

“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.”

The opinion by the court now means some GOP congressmen will have to make tough decisions, since the map was designed to pit incumbent Republicans against each other. We already know Rep. Joe Walsh will run in the 8th Congressional District, rather than face a tougher primary battle in the 14th District, where his home is now located based on the new map. With the court's decision, Adam Kinzinger (R-11) announced he would run in the 16th and face 10-time incumbent Donald Manzullo in the March 20 primary.

For those of you wondering how Walsh and Kinzinger can run in districts in which they don't live, it's pretty easy. According to state law, the only requirements to run for Congress in Illinois are to be 25 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least seven years and a registered voter, and be an Illinois resident.

Congressional Map Opinion