Maryland’s highest court rejects redistricting challenges

Maryland’s highest court has upheld the state’s new legislative map, rejecting four lawsuits from critics who claimed it was illegally gerrymandered for political reasons.

The state Court of Appeals issued an opinion Friday saying Gov. Martin O’Malley did not violate any laws in crafting the district map for Maryland’s state Senate and House of Delegates.

The Democratic governor led a panel last year that drew the map to account for population changes in the state.

Of the four lawsuits, the most prominent was brought by state Sens. James Brochin and Delores Kelley, two Baltimore County Democrats who argued that their districts were drastically redrawn to protect the influence of lawmakers in the city of Baltimore.

Baltimore was the state’s only jurisdiction to see its population decrease over the past decade, but map-makers allowed the city to retain its six senatorial districts by extending its 44th District into western Baltimore County where it picked up many of Mrs. Kelley’s constituents.

The new map also altered Mr. Brochin’s 42nd District, which sat just north of the city border but will now extend to the Pennsylvania line.

The change is expected to make his district more conservative and endanger his re-election hopes. Mr. Brochin, one of the Senate’s most conservative Democrats, has suggested that the change is political retaliation from party leaders.

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