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Between the Lines: Arguments in Illinois GOP Case Begin in Court Today

Court hearings begin today on the Republican lawsuit to overturn the new Congressional map.

The stakes are high for the Illinois GOP, which could lose as many as five seats under the overhauled plan for the state’s 18 House districts. What’s more, time is running out to overturn the new lines with the early December filing deadline quickly approaching.

Republicans laid out their case last week in a memo asking the court for a permanent injunction. Republicans argued the new map creates “a racially gerrymandered district,” “dilutes the votes of Latinos” and “unconstitutionally discriminates against Republican voters.”

The GOP’s attorneys cited emails between a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee political aide, Ian Russell, and one of state Senate President John Cullerton’s top aides, Andrew Manar, as evidence that Democrats manipulated the process for political benefit.

A Feb. 24 email from Russell to Manar refers to a mutual “goal” of “more Democratic pick ups.” Republicans also cited a May 24 memo from Russell to Manar on “destabilizing Republican incumbents” and redrawing downstate Illinois to Democrats’ political advantage.

When questioned about his committee’s involvement in the Illinois redraw at a Nov. 4 press conference, DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) declined to comment on the pending litigation.

LOUISIANA: Unconventional Lawsuit Aims to Get Seat Back

The Pelican State lost one seat in the decennial reapportionment process, shrinking the House delegation from seven to six Representatives. On Monday, in an unusual move, state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell (R) sued to get the seventh seat back.

In the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Supreme Court, Caldwell alleged that the Census Bureau did not correctly count the nation’s population and thus incorrectly reapportioned Congressional representation. It thus “deprives the State of Louisiana of an additional Member of Congress to which the State is entitled,” Caldwell wrote in the complaint.

He alleged that the census illegally counted “non-immigrant foreign nationals” — such as foreign students, those here on temporary work visas and illegal immigrants — and therefore over-counted millions of people who were not “permanent residents of any state.” That, Caldwell concluded, led to an improper allocation of representation.

Democratic redistricting attorney Jeff Wice said this type of suit “has lost several times in the past.” What makes this one different, he said, is that it’s coming after reapportionment and claiming actual injury. Many similar suits that were unsuccessful in previous redistricting cycles were filed prior to reapportionment.

“It’s quite late in the process and this lawsuit could have been brought almost a year ago,” Wice said.

Caldwell’s filing comes 11 months after reapportionment, 10 months after the Census Bureau delivered its decennial count to the Pelican State, seven months after a new Congressional map was signed into law there and three months after that map was approved by the Department of Justice.

The attorney general’s office said in a statement it was not ready to file suit “earlier in the year due to a variety of reasons, including the Deepwater Horizon litigation demands, analysis of needed statistics, etc.”

In a statement to Roll Call, the Census Bureau said it conducted the 2010 census as it has always been done.

“Since the first census in 1790, the law has been clear and consistent: the census must attempt to count everyone living in the U.S., including both citizens and non-citizens,” spokesman Michael Cook said. “This law has been upheld ever since, by presidential administrations of both parties, by subsequent laws and by the Supreme Court.”

The Department of Justice has 60 days to respond to the suit. There is no time limit on how long the Supreme Court can take to decide whether it will hear the case.

ARIZONA: Court Ruling on Mathis Expected Soon

The state Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments today from counsel for the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission and Colleen Mathis, the former chairwoman of the commission. Both are appealing her removal from the commission.

A ruling on whether Mathis will be reinstated could come any day. She was removed earlier this month after the commission released a redistricting draft map that enraged state and national

Gov. Jan Brewer (R) orchestrated Mathis’ removal with the consent of a supermajority in the Republican state Senate.

The state’s Commission on Appellate Court Appointments is moving ahead with the process of replacing Mathis. Its duty is to narrow a pool of 19 registered Independent applicants for the position down to three nominees. The commission will vote on the nominees Nov. 28. The remaining members of the redistricting commission, two Republicans and two Democrats, will select the new member from that pool.

The Mathis removal does not necessarily ensure a more Republican-friendly map. By law, her replacement will also be a registered Independent.

The Mathis ouster upended a process that the commission had hoped would conclude before Thanksgiving. This is only the second time an independent commission has handled the state’s redistricting, and it is the first time a member was removed. A timeline for a final map is unclear.

MINNESOTA: Parties Prepare to Submit Redraw Plans

Friday is the deadline for political parties in Minnesota to submit versions of new Congressional lines.

A five-judge panel has until February to take those maps into consideration and draw new lines. It is one of the latest deadlines to complete redistricting in the country.

The panel assumed the responsibility when the Republican-controlled state Legislature and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton were unable to come to agreement on a new map.

Currently, the Minnesota House delegation is evenly split with four Republicans and four Democrats. Both parties are closely watching how redistricting will affect three seats:  Rep. Tim Walz’s (D) 1st district, Rep. Erik Paulsen’s (R) 3rd district and Rep. Chip Cravaack’s (R) 8th district. At this point in the cycle, Walz and Paulsen appear to be on safe ground for re-election, but that could all change with the new map.

MASSACHUSETTS: New Congressional Map Clears State Legislature

The state Legislature passed a Congressional redistricting plan Wednesday that, for the most part, protects incumbents. It reduces the number of House Members for the Bay State from 10 to nine.

Rep. John Olver (D) has said he will retire at the end of the 112th Congress, leaving every Member seeking re-election with a district.

The map is expected to be signed into law by Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick soon.

Send news items on redistricting to Between the Lines here.

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