Democrats set to redo legislative maps as Republicans call foul | Illinois

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(The Center Square) – Illinois lawmakers had to come back after passing the budget to clean things up and pass it again. They’re scheduled for a redo of a different sort later this month. Republicans field a motion in federal court for immediate judgement over the maps that set political boundaries for the next decade.

The legislature passed legislative maps based on estimated Census data in May. The governor enacted them in June. But the more detailed block-level data meant to be used for redistricting was recently released by the U.S. Census just days ago.

Minority Republicans analysts overlaid the new data over the maps approved in May and found some districts exceeded the allowed deviation, making the maps invalid.

Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, and Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, on Friday called both chambers back for a special session “for the purpose of considering legislative measures related to the legislative redistricting plan.”

“[T]he House will be returning for a one-day special session on August 31 to amend the legislative map enacted in June to incorporate the latest census data,” Welch said.

“Our goal has always been to implement a map that is fair and represents the diversity of the population of Illinois,” Harmon said.

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Springfield, announced Republicans are requesting a federal court immediately rule against the maps. 

“A motion for summary judgment is filed when there is no longer a dispute over the law and the facts,” Durkin said. “The release of the Census data is game-set-match against the Illinois Democrats. Now knowing that their original map is unconstitutional, the Democrats are now scrambling to draw a new backroom map on short notice. There is no way to ‘put the toothpaste back into the tube’ as discussed in our summary judgment motion.”

Earlier in the week, Durkin said Republicans can’t stop Democrats from passing new maps.

“We’re not going to support it, but this is just a, I believe a real good example of how they screwed up,” Durkin said, anticipating the special session. “They should have listened to us, they should have listened to the citizens and wait for the Census data as opposed to rushing it through so they could get a partisan map done behind closed doors.”

The enacted maps were passed along party lines in May hours after releasing the data they used. Republicans and various civic organizations had asked the legislature to hold off until the final Census data was released, instead of using American Community Survey estimates. 

Republicans say it is beyond the June 30 deadline for the legislature to act and it’s now time for a bipartisan commission to takeover, as laid out in the state constitution.

Illinois Senate Redistricting Committee co-chair state state Sen. Elgie Sims said the legal experts will step in.

“I think that’s one for our lawyers to handle and they’ll deal with that in time,” Sims said earlier in the week.

Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, told WMAY Democrats may argue they passed a map in good faith and are merely coming back to update it with new numbers. He argued Democrats missed their opportunity.

“Otherwise, if their argument was real, then they could have just thrown paint on the wall, they could have done some sort of abstract art, which some people have argued their map sort of looks like that anyway,” McConchie said. “They could have done anything, drawn any sort of map, to preserve their right to a constitutional process down the road and the constitution just simply doesn’t allow for that.”

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Caleb Alexander

Caleb Alexander

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