Video: Illinois Republicans ask a judge to toss out new legislative maps signed into law last week. Our Spotlight Politics team on that and more. (Produced by Marissa Nelson)
The top-ranking Republicans in Illinois asked a federal judge Wednesday to toss out the new maps of districts for the state Legislature, Illinois Supreme Court and Cook County Board of Review signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
House GOP Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs and Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie of Hawthorn Woods want a judge to declare that the decision by House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch and Senate President Don Harmon to base the maps on data from the American Community Survey, rather than data from the U.S. Census, was “arbitrary and discriminatory” and therefore unconstitutional.
“The partisan process upon which the legislative maps were drawn flies in the face of the countless advocacy groups and citizens that testified at the redistricting hearings,” Durkin said in a statement. “The tone-deaf Democratic Party of Illinois has robbed citizens of a fair and transparent process, and I plan to be a conduit for Illinois citizens who demand honesty by ensuring they also have their day in court.”
The data used to craft the maps undercounted “minority, rural and growing communities,” according to the statement from Durkin and McConchie.
Several groups pushing for independent maps, including Change Illinois and Common Cause, blasted the maps drawn and approved by Democratic lawmakers as unfair because the data they used is less accurate than the data collected by the census.
However, census data will not be available until mid-August, months later than expected because of delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and legal challenges brought by former President Donald Trump.
“Republicans signaled that they would sue over these maps, no matter what,” said Jordan Abudayyeh, a spokesperson for Pritzker. “The administration believes that these maps preserve electoral power and fair representation for diverse communities, which is why the governor signed them.”
But the maps are also designed to boost Democrats’ efforts to maintain their supermajorities in the Illinois House and Senate for the next decade.
State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, chair of the House Redistricting Committee, said the lawsuit was designed to give Republicans “a chance to single handedly draw a map for their political gain.”
Hernandez said the House leadership is confident that the maps will survive the legal challenge.
None of the new districts will force sitting House Democrats to run against each other, while the new map creates seven districts that will force 14 incumbent Republicans into face offs.
Had the General Assembly not passed new maps by June 30, state law would have required the leaders of the legislature to appoint an eight-member commission made up of four Democrats and four Republicans to craft the maps. Those maps do not need the approval of the General Assembly — or Pritzker, according to state law.
That has happened four times in Illinois history — and in all but one case, the commission found itself deadlocked along party lines.
To break that tie, the constitution calls for a name to be pulled from a hat — giving Democrats and Republicans a 50-50 shot at controlling Illinois politics for the next decade.
Durkin and McConchie’s lawsuit asks a judge to order Welch and Harmon to appoint a commission to redraw the maps based on data from the census. The current maps violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, according to the lawsuit.