Last week, plaintiffs including Republicans, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF) and the East St. Louis Chapter of the NAACP, in the ongoing court case challenging the General Assembly’s redistricting legislation, complied with a federal court’s request to submit changes to the Democratic Majority’s politician-drawn map.
The GOP leaders submitted changes that would fix constitutional issues with the Democratic Majority’s map and bring it more in line with the Voting Rights Act.
“It is clear from our proposal that Gov. Pritzker and the Democratic Majority were more concerned with protecting their incumbent politicians than the voting rights of the people of the Metro East,” said Illinois State Senator Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville). “This map empowers the citizens in the Metro East, allowing voters to exercise their constitutional rights and better elect candidates that more accurately reflect their communities.”
Specific changes included:
* 1 additional CVAP African American House District in the Metro East; and
* 11 Hispanic Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) House districts statewide compared to only 4 Hispanic CVAP House Districts introduced in the Democrat’s second map;
* 5 Hispanic CVAP Senate Districts statewide compared to only 2 Hispanic CVAP Senate Districts introduced in the Democrat’s second map.
“The Metro East is an economic engine and the second largest population center in Illinois,” said Plummer. “By breaking his promise to support independent redistricting and signing the politician-drawn map that clearly underrepresented communities of the Metro East, Gov. Pritzker has shown that he is more concerned with protecting incumbent politicians than voting rights in Illinois. Is he going to come out and support this map, a fair map that truly empowers the voices of Metro East communities and downstate Illinoisans, or is he going to keep defending his political cronies?”
The filing in federal court comes after a three-judge panel ruled the initial map drawn by Democrats unconstitutional as it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. According to page 35 of the ruling, “In other words, the General Assembly may not dilute a large percentage of voters to advance a preferred political outcome.”
Recognizing that their first map would fail in court, the Democratic Majority quickly passed a second map after the constitutional deadline for legislator-drawn maps and with the same lack of transparency or public input.
“As a member of this committee, I heard from dozens of witnesses who begged for more time and transparency in this process,” Plummer said. “I hope this court action serves as a message to all those who gave their time and energy to fight for reform in Illinois that their voices were heard. This redistricting process is ultimately all about that fundamental point, should voters be picking who represents them or should politicians be picking who they represent. It’s time that power-hungry Illinois politicians remember a core rule of democracy – we work for the citizens, they do not work for us.”
The three-judge panel has stated that the plaintiffs and defendants should expect a hearing to begin on December 6, 2021. Due to the high profile of the case, the court will be making accommodations for the public to attend in-person.