Roundup of lawsuits against Illinois’ newly-adopted redistricting plans

As of June 16, two lawsuits have been filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois-Eastern Division challenging the state legislative maps signed that Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) signed into law on June 4, 2010. Both complaints focus on the Illinois Legislature’s use of data from the American Community Survey (ACS) instead of from the U.S. census, alleging that by using data from the ACS the maps violated the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause.

Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie filed a complaint on June 9 alleging undercounts by the ACS compared with the census data saying, “[ACS] estimates are not intended to be, and are not, a proper substitute for the official census counts.” They allege that “because it uses ACS estimates for population data, the Redistricting Plan does not ensure that the Senate and Representative Districts satisfy the constitutional mandate of substantially equal populations [among districts].” They are asking the court to declare the enacted maps unconstitutional and to appoint either a bipartisan legislative commission or a special master (outside expert) to draft new maps.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) filed a complaint on behalf of five registered voters (Contreras, Fuentes, Martinez, Padilla, and Torres) on June 10 alleging the maps were malapportioned because of the committee’s use of the ACS data and that they violated the Fourteenth Amendment, saying “ACS data are an estimate of population characteristics based on sample data, and not a count of U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens.” The plaintiffs allege that “the Enacted Plans purportedly ensure compliance with the ‘one-person, one-vote’ standard mandated by the Fourteenth Amendment; however, ACS data is inadequate for that purpose.” They are asking the court to declare that the enacted plans violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, and are asking for an injunction preventing the defendants from certifying petitions or conducting future elections for the General Assembly under the enacted plans and an injunction requiring the defendants to draw new maps based on the data from the 2020 Census.

Democratic leaders of the Senate Redistricting Committee Omar Aquino and Elgie Sims responded to Durkin and McConchie’s lawsuit, saying: “Throughout this process, (Republicans) have done nothing but delay and obstruct efforts to ensure our communities are fairly represented, as seen by their refusal to even draft their own proposals… We stand by our work to ensure everyone has a voice in state government.” No response to the MALDEF lawsuit had been reported as of June 16th.

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