Republican Maryland Governor Larry Hogan uses a lawsuit filed against Texas by Joe Biden’s Department of Justice as an example for a request that Biden sues his state to stop Maryland Democrats from extreme gerrymandering of the state’s congressional districts.
Earlier this month, the DOJ sued Texas, claiming that the proposed congressional redistricting laid out by state Republicans would disenfranchise some Texas voters. The case is based on Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act.
According to Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland, the lawsuit claims that the Texas plan denied or abridged the right to vote because of race, color, or minority language because it allegedly dilutes the voting power of specific minority communities. The DOJ complaint that the plan had a discriminatory intent and would produce a biased outcome because minority voters would not be allowed to elect representatives they would prefer.
Hogan wrote an opinion column for the Wall Street Journal asking the DOJ to sue Maryland on the same legal theory. He noted that the Maryland General Assembly, which Democrats control, voted to override his veto of their new congressional map. Hogan said the recent redistricting in Maryland makes the country’s most gerrymandered map even worse and results in “far more egregious” violations of civil rights than alleged in the Texas case.
Hogan pointed out in his essay that Garland himself lives in the third congressional district in Maryland, which has been described by the Washington Post as America’s “most gerrymandered district.” The governor noted that the third district snakes its way across the entire state from rural areas near Annapolis back through Baltimore and Montgomery County. In this very affluent area, Garland lives. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) is the congressman for the district and is the lead sponsor of the election reform and anti-gerrymandering bill pending in Congress.
Hogan wrote that the minority in Maryland deserves the complete protection of the law just as voters in Texas do, regardless of what party thinks it benefits in the short term. He said that Biden and Garland could hold both parties responsible for discriminatory redistricting or “politicize the Justice Department” by applying different standards to different states depending on what party controls the state legislature.