CHICAGO – A federal court ruled today that state legislative redistricting plans adopted by the Illinois General Assembly and signed on June 4 by Gov. J.B. Pritzker are malapportioned and unconstitutional. The decision will lead to the federal court reviewing and adopting new maps to be used in the state.
Tuesday’s ruling comes in a lawsuit filed by MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) on behalf of Latino voters. The suit challenged the state’s use of population estimates rather than decennial Census data to draw redistricting plans as a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection guarantee of “one person, one vote.”
“The federal court has recognized how inappropriate it is for Illinois to adopt bad maps in June, then say ‘never mind’ and adopt new maps after being sued,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. “There are consequences to such legerdemain, and now the state will be required to follow new maps; these new maps must comply with applicable constitutional and legislative requirements, such as compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act.”
In its ruling, the three-judge panel concluded that the Illinois House and Senate districts in the June Redistricting Plan are unconstitutionally malapportioned, and enjoined the “State
Board of Elections Defendants from holding elections under the June Redistricting Plan or its predecessors.”
“The Court has affirmed what MALDEF has argued since Illinois began the redistricting process — that proceeding with redistricting using estimates of population rather than Census enumeration data would result in unconstitutional maps,” said Ernest Herrera, MALDEF staff attorney. “With today's ruling, plaintiffs, who are Latino voters in Illinois, have succeeded in proving that the Illinois General Assembly drew unconstitutional maps in May and that the drawing of legal, non-discriminatory maps should be overseen by the Court.”
The ruling now sets the stage for the court to consider remedial plans that address the violations cited by the court.
In September, Gov. Pritzker signed a second set of maps that were drawn using 2020 Census data. These maps will now become the remedial proposal from the state to be evaluated by the court and parties.
Earlier this month, MALDEF challenged the September maps in an amended complaint that alleges that those maps violate Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act by unlawfully diluting the Latino vote. The updated complaint also argued that the newer maps are racially gerrymandered because they were drawn using race as a predominant factor. The court can still consider those arguments in reviewing the appropriate remedial maps to order Illinois to implement.
Read the complaint HERE.