Federal court hears arguments in legislative maps case, may seek more information | Illinois

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(The Center Square) – Illinois’ statehouse maps are now in the hands of a federal court, but more filings could be on the way.

Democrats passed maps along party lines for state House and Senate Districts. The first set of maps, passed in May, were based on estimates. Democrats then passed along party lines revised maps this summer after final Census data was released. Lawsuits from separate groups were filed in federal court which struck down the first maps and said the revised maps could be amended.

Plaintiffs attorneys separately representing minority rights groups and Republicans presented their arguments against the Democrats’ statehouse maps for hours Tuesday. Attorneys for the Democrats defended the maps.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund questioned whether the General Assembly can pass a “legal map” before Dec. 27, 2021, a date laid out by the Illinois State Board of Elections.

“If they can do that then we have no reason to object,” said attorney Ernest Herrera who also argued for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s proposed maps.

Attorney Ryan Snow, representing the NAACP, said the Democrats’ maps are racially gerrymandered and argued in favor of the NAACP’s plan and against sending the issue back to the legislature for several reasons.

“One, they already took two chances with this and they shut out communities of color from the process,” Snow said.

Statehouse Republicans’ attorneys argued for their plan, which they said is unique.

“Our plan is the only plan that comes anywhere close to offering Latinos a meaningful and equal opportunity to participate in the system,” said attorney Mitch Holzrichter.

Attorneys for the Democrats defending the maps the governor enacted, said the maps were approved by duly elected statehouse lawmakers and enacted by the governor.

The three-judge federal panel said it is taking the issue under advisement and is expected to make a decision in the weeks ahead, but said it may request more information from the litigants.

“I wish I could say I thought we’d have an opinion written by next Tuesday, but that’s not going to happen,” Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr. said, noting the dates for follow-up briefs could change.

Maps would need to be in place before candidates for statehouse seats for the June primary begin circulating petitions beginning Jan. 13.



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Caleb Alexander

Caleb Alexander

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