Court documents set the stage for pleadings on new maps from December 7 | Politics

SPRINGFIELD – Lawyers for Democratic General Assembly leaders have filed documents in federal court denying that the new maps of state legislative districts constituted racial gerrymandering, instead accusing plaintiffs in all three lawsuits of attempting to use race to redesign districts for their own purposes.

The documents filed are Democrats’ response to proposed changes in district maps submitted last week by Republican leaders, a Latin American advocacy group in Chicago, and black civil rights groups in the metro area of ballast.

A three-judge panel from the Chicago federal court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the three separate cases starting Dec. 7.

The new maps will determine how communities across the state will be represented at the Springfield General Assembly for the next 10 years.

Due in large part to the pandemic, the US Census Bureau did not release detailed official 2020 census figures until mid-August. Lawmakers then called a special session to adjust the initial maps they approved in the spring – maps based on population estimates from survey data – and adopted a new set of maps on August 31. 24.

Among other things, census figures showed that Illinois had lost population overall since the 2010 count. But there had been a substantial increase in the state’s Latino population, while its populations black and white were both diminishing.

In separate lawsuits, Republican leaders and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund have both argued that despite the growing Latin American population, the new maps actually reduce the number of districts in which Latinos constitute a majority. , or a large plurality, of the population of voting age. They argued that this violated both the U.S. Constitution and the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In another lawsuit, the East St. Louis branch of the NAACP, as well as the state chapter of the NAACP and the United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations, argued that in the eastern metropolitan area, the Concentrated areas of black voters were divided into three House-only districts. in an effort to protect the incumbent White Democrats.

The three lawsuits name Senate Speaker Don Harmon of Oak Park, Speaker of the House Emanuel “Chris” Welch of Hillside, and the Illinois State Council of Elections as accused.

In their court case this week, however, lawyers for the Democratic leadership denied any constitutional or legal violation.

“The September redistribution plan (…) protects the voting power of minorities and offers Hispanic and black voters more than equality of opportunity to elect the candidates of their choice,” their brief said. “The three plaintiffs have not provided evidence to support the contrary and have failed to demonstrate that the September redistribution plan violates voting rights law or the US Constitution.”

Earlier this month, all three groups of plaintiffs submitted their proposed map revisions. The Mexican-American group proposed changes to the Chicago area that would create 10 predominantly Latino districts in the Chicago area, while Republicans proposed to create an 11th Latin district in Aurora.

Both NAACP plaintiffs and Republicans have proposed redesigning the eastern metropolitan area to create a largely Black House neighborhood in East St. Louis.

In this week’s response, Democratic leaders argue that none of these proposals overlap and that each would have ripple effects that would affect neighboring districts that were not challenged.

“In other words, the plaintiffs have proposed three competing recovery plans, without any proposal to reconcile the differences,” the Democrats’ lawyers wrote.

In northwest Chicago, Democrats argue, the plan proposed by MALDEF would create a Latino senatorial district and three Latin American districts by reconfiguring districts that are already majority Latin American while reducing the influence of Latinos in another Senate district that has elected a Latino since 2003.

They argue that the proposed changes were entirely based on race and that the complainants “do not even attempt to articulate another reason for their proposed changes.”

The Republican proposal, Democrats say, “seeks to repair a racial gerrymander on the Northwest side by itself by racially gerrymanding Latinos in and out of districts and politically gerrymandering them throughout the region.”

Further, they argue, the GOP plan “moves people in and out of neighboring districts for the benefit of the outgoing Republican of (House District) 20 (Rep. Bradley Stephens) and gives Republicans a better opportunity to earn HD 48 and HD 56.

In southwest Chicago, Democrats say, lawmakers have attempted to balance a number of competing demands from different communities, including a request to establish an Asian-American-influenced neighborhood in the area known as the name of Chinatown as well as a Latin neighborhood in the nearby area known as Little Village. .

“The General Assembly, comprising the different political factions in this area, has endeavored to carefully balance the interests of progressive and moderate factions in separate districts of the Senate and the House in order to reduce internal political struggles between the groups. Latinos, ”the Democrats’ lawyers wrote.

In the eastern metropolitan region, Democrats said they “do not dispute that partisanship has played a central role in attracting these districts.”

“As the region has become more politically polarized, Democrats in the General Assembly have prioritized the protection of elected Democratic members in Republican southern Illinois, including the preservation of two districts that elected Democrats black people for over 40 years, ”they wrote.

Capitol News Illinois is a non-profit, non-partisan news service covering state government and distributed to over 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

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