The Illinois Republican congressional delegation has called the recent redistricting process in their state a “sham,” criticizing the redistricting committee as partisan. Republican Reps. Rodney Davis, Mike Bost, Adam Kinzinger, Darin LaHood, and Mary Miller accused the committee of favoring Democrats in the new maps.
“Illinois citizens have been clear that they want an independent redistricting process free of political influence, but as we speak, Democrat lawmakers are picking their own voters behind closed doors,” wrote the representatives in a press statement.
Redistricting is the process of redrawing state legislative and congressional district boundaries following the decennial U.S. Census, which happens every 10 years. The Illinois maps were drawn in June by a Democrat majority committee made up of state legislators. Governor J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, signed the new maps into law on Sept. 24.
“Illinois’ strength is in our diversity, and these maps help to ensure that communities that have been left out and left behind have fair representation in our government,” Pritzker said in June. “These district boundaries align with both the federal and state Voting Rights Acts, which help to ensure our diverse communities have electoral power and fair representation.”
Illinois is one of the latest states to join the post-2020 census redistricting battle. Both Republicans and Democrats say they want fair maps that are drawn by non-partisan committees.
Adam Kincaid, the executive director at National Republican Redistricting Trust (NRRT) said in a recent interview that Republicans in the Illinois state Senate sued the state over the maps that were approved by Pritzker.
“Number one, it didn’t use real data; number two, it was clearly partisan; and number three, he promised a veto it, right? He said that he wanted the commission to draw the map. Governor Pritzker’s veto would have forced an (independent) commission to draw the maps,” said Kincaid. “But what did he do? He signed it anyway.”
The NRRT’s counterpart is the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), which is led by the former attorney general for President Barack Obama, Eric Holder, and both groups are working to get their party control of the U.S. House in the 2022 elections and beyond.
“You’ve got to remember, the NDRC says that they’re fighting for fair maps. They say that they’re fighting gerrymandering. The only thing that they’re doing is fighting Republican redistricting control,” said Kincaid. “You know, the NDRC is an organization that on their own 990 says that they exist to favorably position Democrats’ redistricting.”
“And so what you can expect to see from them is that they’ll show up in states in front of redistricting committees where Republicans draw the lines and call for Republicans to draw maps that elect more Democrats,” he continued. “And when they don’t do that, they’ll sue.”
“So, the reality is that they’re going to keep suing over and over and over again until they get every single district that they think they’re entitled to.”
Eric Holder’s organization filed what’s known as “impasse litigation” in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania in April, the first of many potential lawsuits. The legal actions anticipate an impasse with the redistricting process because in those states because it’s where the two parties share control of the mapmaking.
“These lawsuits are just the first of many steps we will be taking in the coming weeks and months to ensure the redistricting process is not subverted by politicians who want to hold onto power at the expense of fair representation,” Holder said in a statement.
The lawsuits ask state courts to set a schedule to take over the process and draw new maps in the likely event that state officials reach an impasse.