The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that a legislative map approved by the General Assembly is constitutional and will be used for the July 19 primary election.
The filing deadline for candidates of 9 p.m. Friday will remain the same.
The state constitution requires candidates for senator or delegate to reside in a particulate district for at least six months. But for this year’s election, the court ruled a candidate must take up residence in a new district by May 8.
“The court … determined that the plan enacted into law on January 27, 2022, is consistent with the requirements of the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Maryland,” Chief Judge Joseph M. Getty wrote in the opinion after holding a hearing Wednesday.
The ruling comes less than two weeks after Gov. Larry Hogan signed a new congressional map into law.
An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge sided with registered Republicans that the map outlining the state’s eight congressional districts wasn’t constitutional and forced the majority-Democratic legislature to draw a new map.
Less than an hour after state lawmakers approved a new map on March 30, Attorney General Brian Frosh filed a notice of intent to appeal the judge’s ruling. But his office later withdrew it.
On the same day Hogan signed the map into law, Maryland Courts of Appeal judge Alan M. Wilner issued a 245-page report in favor of the General Assembly to utilize the state’s 47 legislative maps.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Assistant Attorney General Ann Sheridan, who represented the General Assembly, mentioned Wilner’s report and how the state constitution permits the legislature to draw new maps and not the court.
“It’s for the political branches to duke it out,” she said, adding that lawmakers “are entitled to legislative immunity when they perform legislative functions.”
Three Republican delegates filed three challenges to the state’s legislative map arguing multimember districts aren’t legal and they weren’t compact.
The legal battles pushed the previous primary election date from June 28 to July 19.
Doug Mayer, spokesman for Fair Maps Maryland advocacy group aligned with the Republican plaintiffs, blames the leadership of the Democratic-majority General Assembly for its handling of the redistricting procedure.
“The idea that the same toxic process that produced the unconstitutional congressional map also produced a constitutional legislative map is inconceivable. Laughable actually,” he said in a statement. “The leadership of the Maryland General Assembly is guilty of extreme gerrymandering and blatant voter suppression. They and they alone are responsible for disenfranchising millions of Maryland voters.”