Redistricting Lawsuit Gets Day in Court

Two Baltimore County senators will argue their case against Gov. Martin O'Malley's legislative redistricting plan Wednesday in the Court of Appeals.

Two state senators from Baltimore County will appear in the state's highest court to argue against a redistricting plan that could affect their political futures.

Sens. Jim Brochin and Delores Kelley will be one of three suits against the redistricting plan Wednesday before the Court of Appeals.

The Democrats claim the new districts violate the Maryland Constitution and a 2002 Court of Appeals ruling that governs redistricting. The suit alleges that Gov. Martin O'Malley and the General Assembly drew maps that contradict a 2002 Court of Appeals order that legislative districts be mindful of crossing jurisdictional lines.

The map combines nearly two dozen Baltimore County precincts into a new district that includes some Baltimore City precincts. The result is a new district that stretches the 44th Legislative District in Baltimore City into a portion of western Baltimore County currently represented primarily by Kelley.

Brochin and Kelley's lawsuit further alleges that the maps violate constitutional requirements that the legislative districts be compact.

Brochin's new district stretches from the Baltimore City-County line to Northern Baltimore County. The changes to Kelley's district pushed other county legislative districts in Baltimore County—such as the 42nd— north.

Finally, the suit alleges that the city, with a population of 620,961, should have just five districts all fully within its borders—a loss of one from its current configuration which was drawn by the Court of Appeals in 2002.

Baltimore County, with a population of 805,029, should have at least six full legislative districts fully within its borders. Currently, the county is represented by eight legislative districts. Three of those—the 5th, 7th and 12th—are shared with Carroll, Harford and Howard counties, respectively.

The lawsuit claims the plan "fails to recognize the growing population imbalance between Baltimore City and Baltimore County.

Oral arguments before the court are schedule to begin at 10 a.m. The hearing will be webcast on the court's website.

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