Federal judges in Maryland floated the idea Thursday of taking the state’s congressional voting map out of the hands of political leaders and leaving the drawing of electoral lines to an independent, nonpartisan commission. A three-judge panel pressed the attorney general’s office and Republican voters challenging the electoral map about the possibility of settling their long-running case as it arrived back in court for the first time since the Supreme Court declined to immediately review the matter of redrawn maps. The high court in June avoided answering the question of when extreme partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional in the Maryland case involving a Democratic-drawn map — and in another from Wisconsin involving a Republican-led effort.
The unsigned opinion left Maryland’s electoral lines untouched for the 2018 elections and returned the case to the lower court.
At issue is the 6th District in Western Maryland, which was redrawn in 2011 to include parts of heavily Democratic Montgomery County.
Michael B. Kimberly, an attorney for a group of Maryland Republicans, told the federal judges in Baltimore that new congressional districts designed by an independent commission would satisfy his clients.