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Judge sets up redistricting decision for appeals court

Denies approval of new map, not due to lack of merit, but court procedure
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Posted at 3:42 PM, Apr 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-01 18:16:31-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Another episode in Maryland's drawn out saga of redistricting played out today in an Annapolis courtroom.

A hearing to determine the constitutionality of a new map, drawn hastily by the MGA to meet Judge Lynn Battaglia's Wednesday deadline, was delayed for nearly an hour as the parties waited for a court reporter.

Judge Battaglia decided to eventually start without one.

The defense attorney, from the Office of the Attorney General, presented a witness and evidence that the new map was not only significantly better in certain criteria than the previous map, but that it fell within the bounds that the plaintiffs had argued would be acceptable.

The plaintiffs' lawyers had a couple of issues to argue on the new map, but generally did not object to or argue with most of what the defense team had to say.

The two issues they did bring up were with the 2nd district's dipping into Baltimore city and a potential legal issue for the fact that the districts weren't exactly equal in population.

The population of each district are equal plus or minus one person.

Defense argued that evidence showed the 2nd district dips into the City to preserve the majority-minority status of the 7th district for compliance with the Voting Right Act.

The judge determined that this hearing would mostly be a fact-finding exercise for the Appeals Court to have in the record.

"The legislature certainly did respond to the court's order," she said, adding that at the moment "we do not have an enacted map."

"Saying that, as I said when I began, I cannot issue a ruling relative to the new map because it would be merely advisory," said Judge Battaglia, adding that "advisory opinions are not well regarded."

She ended the hearing saying that she'd likely have to issue an amended order, denying the new map.,

And just after 3pm, an order was entered into the court record, denying the approval of the map.

We'll keep this redistricting process in focus for you, but in the meantime, check out this timeline of how we got to where we are now: