Over GOP Protests, Court Upholds Illinois Map

Posted December 15, 2011 at 4:52pm

A federal court upheld Illinois Democrats’ crafty new Congressional map today despite Republican protests.

The ruling means Democrats will have the opportunity to pick up several House seats in 2012 as many Illinois Republican House Members seek re-election in drastically redrawn districts and unfriendly GOP territory next year.

Illinois Democrats drew an aggressive new Congressional map earlier this year aimed at knocking off a handful of GOP Members in 2012. Democrats hailed the redrawn map as a piece of redistricting art, but Republicans objected to the heavily redrawn district and took their complaints to court.

Illinois Republicans argued the map was politically motivated. They also said the Latino population in the Chicago metropolitan area was large enough to merit a second majority-Latino district besides the one currently held by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D).

But this week, the court ruled that Republicans failed to prove those allegations.

A three-judge panel wrote in its decision, “We agree with the Committee that the crafting of the Adopted Map was a blatant political move. … Ultimately we conclude that the Committee failed to present a workable standard by which to evaluate such claims.”

The court also ruled that Republicans failed to prove that the state Legislature intentionally discriminated against Latinos in its redraw.

After the map was released in May, several Illinois GOP Members held out hope that the courts would strike it down. Initially, many GOP Members would not even comment on their re-election plans in hopes the map would be overturned.

But privately, several Republicans doubted the lawsuit would be successful.

The court’s ruling comes just several weeks before the Dec. 27 filing deadline for House candidates. The primary is scheduled for March 20.

Almost every Illinois Republican House Member responded to the ruling via a joint statement. Only one GOP Member, Rep. Timothy Johnson, did not join the lawsuit with his colleagues.

“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,” they said. “We are in the process of reviewing the decision and evaluating our options for future action.”