Highest court upholds circuit court ruling; county to use commission’s redistricting map
By Sophie Gorman Oriani
On March 7, the Court of Appeals of Maryland upheld the county circuit court’s January ruling overturning the controversial Prince George’s County redistricting map.
The Court of Appeals of Maryland is the highest court in the state. It is the state equivalent to the federal Supreme Court. Typically, cases that are appealed from the circuit court go to the court of special appeals, which is a lower court. However, the court of appeals hears all cases involving legislative redistricting.
The now-overturned county council redistricting map was controversial due to alleged gerrymandering, as shifting boundaries led to at least three potential candidates being placed in different districts.
However, the court overturned the map based on procedural grounds, as the map was passed by means of a resolution rather than by means of a bill. While a resolution has the force of law, the county executive can veto a bill, but not a resolution.
Chief Judge Joseph M. Getty’s order requires Prince George’s County to use the redistricting plan originally developed by the independent commission. It also requires the county to pay the costs of the appeal.
The redistricting commission’s plan made minimal changes to district boundaries. Hyattsville and College Park will remain in the same districts as before the redistricting.