Tag Archive | Election Law

In re 2012 Legislative Districting and the Permanence or Expedience of Judicial Review

By Alan B. Sternstein

Every ten years, after each national census, provisions in the Maryland Constitution (Art. III, § 5) require that the State’s 47 Legislative Districts be reviewed for reapportionment. Those same provisions require the Governor to submit to both houses of the State legislature, the Senate and the House of Delegates, a plan for the 47 Districts, making boundary changes to the District in response to population changes and as necessitated by and consistent with state and federal constitutional requirements. Failing the General Assembly’s adoption of its own plan, the Governor’s plan becomes law, and that became the case for Governor O’Malley’s plan in response to the 2010 census (“2012 Plan”), which became the law on February 24, 2012.

The reapportionment provisions of the Maryland Constitution also vest the Court of Appeals with original jurisdiction to review any registered voter’s constitutional challenge to the legislative redistricting plan (Art. III, § 5). On March 6, 2012, the Court of Appeals issued an order in Matter of 2012 Legislative Districting of the State, 429 Md. 301, 55 A.3d 713 (2012), setting forth procedures to accommodate such challenges and appointed retired Court of Appeals Judge Alan M. Wilner as the Court’s Special Master, to conduct any necessary hearings. Eventually, after hearings before the Special Master, the submission of his recommendations, the taking of exceptions thereto, and argument before the Court, the Court issued a one page order on November 9, 2012, rejecting all challenges to the 2012 Plan, with opinion to follow. The Court (Bell, C.J., ret.) issued that opinion (cited herein as “Slip Op.”) on December 10, 2013. Read More…