(The Center Square) – New legislative maps detailing political boundaries for the next ten years are in the hands of the courts and it could still be weeks before there’s finality.
Democrats approved the maps in May. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the maps into law. Democrats say they were abiding by the constitutional deadline of June 30 for the Legislature to approve maps. The maps were based on estimates, not the final block-level data meant to be used for redistricting. That data wasn’t released by the U.S. Census until last month.
Illinois Republicans and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) sued in federal court.
After new Census data was released, Democrats called a special session for Aug. 31 and passed maps just hours after they were released, despite pleas from civic groups to give more time for review.
Republicans say the governor should veto the maps. They’re calling for the bipartisan commission to draw maps when lawmakers fail as prescribed by the state constitution.
Pritzker said Wednesday he’ll review the maps when they’re sent. He said his focus is on diversity of the state, not politics.
“It isn’t about party affiliation, it really is about diversity of our state,” Pritzker said.
State Sen. Jason Barickman said it’s not just Republicans who are upset.
“You don’t have to listen to Republicans, MALDEF says that the maps drawn are unconstitutional and MALDEF asks for relief from the court,” Barickman said.
Various groups say the maps diminish the voice of minority populations.
Barickman said there are a couple of ways the courts could go.
“Either embrace the bipartisan redistricting commission that exists under the Illinois constitution, or for the courts to appoint a special master,” Barickman said. “You’ve seen this in courts across the country where the court declares that the politicians screwed it up just so bad that they’re taking over the process.”
The maps will determine boundaries for statehouse seats, and whether incumbents will be pitted against each other.
It could be December or even January before the court decides on the case, Barickman said, which will put pressure on the filing period in January for the Democratic and Republican primary set for June 2022.