- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 18, 2002

ANNAPOLIS (AP) The Court of Appeals selected a University of Pennsylvania professor and the General Assembly's legislative redistricting expert to help draw new districts for the 47 state senators and 141 members of the House of Delegates.
The Court of Appeals rejected the redistricting plan prepared by Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Democratic leaders June 11, saying "significant portions" of the plan violated state constitutional guidelines dealing with compactness of districts. Judges said it crossed county lines and natural boundaries.
Nathaniel Persily, an assistant professor of law, and Karl Aro, director of the General Assembly's Department of Legislative Services, were appointed by the court yesterday to give advice to judges on a new plan.
Mr. Aro was a top staff person when legislative districts were drawn after the census in 1980, 1990 and 2000.
Despite Mr. Aro's involvement with Democratic leaders in putting together this year's plan that was rejected, Republican leaders say they are not upset with his selection.
"He's always been professional and seems to work well with both sides," said Paul Ellington, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party.
Mr. Persily was recommended by lawyers representing some of the opponents to the redistricting plan prepared by Mr. Glendening. He has researched and written articles on congressional redistricting and has testified on the issue before Congress.
The Court of Appeals' decision to reject the plan cast a cloud of uncertainty over the coming legislative elections, creating confusion for election officials and prospective candidates who aren't sure what their new districts will look like.
State election officials say they need a decision on a final legislative redistricting plan by July 1 or they will not have time to prepare for the Sept. 10 primary.
The court has not given any indication when it will adopt a final plan.


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