(The Center Square) – Claiming the recently enacted legislative maps were based on inaccurate data, Illinois Senate and House Republicans have filed a federal lawsuit against the House Speaker, the Senate President, and others challenging the new boundaries.
After the decennial Census, states must redraw their political boundaries. Before the end of the spring legislative session, the Democratic majority at the statehouse produced maps and passed them with little time to review.
Republicans and some ethnic and religious minority groups criticized the partisan process and use of American Community Survey data instead of the full Census data, which hasn’t been released yet because of the pandemic and other factors.
“Today’s filing should come as no surprise to Illinoisans,” said House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs. “The partisan process upon which the legislative maps were drawn flies in the face of the strong recommendations made by countless advocacy groups and citizens who testified at the redistricting hearings.
“The tone deaf Democratic Party of Illinois has robbed citizens of a fair and transparent legislative map-making process, and I plan to be a conduit for Illinois citizens who demand honesty by ensuring they also have their day in court,” Durkin said.
A news release about the lawsuit says use of ACS estimates violates federal law, including “well established ‘one-person, one-vote’ principles.”
“The use of ACS estimates will undercount minority, rural and growing communities and will result in a population disparity between districts that exceeds what federal law allows,” the release said.
Democratic leaders on the Senate's redistricting committee, Sen. Omar Aquino, D-Chicago, and Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, provided reaction.
“It is disappointing but not surprising Republicans would seek to strike down these new maps, which reflect the great racial and geographic diversity of our state," the joint statement said. "Throughout this process, they 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.”
The House Democrats' redistricting leader also reacted to the GOP lawsuit.
"As expected, the Republicans are doing everything in their power to block a map that reflects the true diversity of Illinois in hopes that they get a chance to single handedly draw a map for their political gain," said Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Chicago. "This is just another disappointing waste of taxpayer dollars, but not at all surprising. We have full confidence in the maps passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Pritzker, and we will continue to review this lawsuit."
“Today we are entering court on behalf of the thousands of families, small business owners, workers, and taxpayers who said they wanted an independently drawn map, not the one handed down by political insiders desperately clinging to power,” said Illinois Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods.
The lawsuit requests the federal court to deem the Democrat’s maps Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed Friday as unconstitutional and invalid. The filing also requests the court direct the House Speaker and Senate President to make their appointments to the Illinois Legislative Redistricting Commission, a failsafe the state constitution sets up if a legislative-approved map isn’t enacted.
“Leaders Durkin and McConchie will make their appointments soon and have pledged to work with those commissioners and the Democratic Leaders to adopt a transparent, bipartisan and independent process for drawing and approving a legislative map after the release of official census data in August,” the release said.