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Between the Lines: Arguments in Illinois GOP Case Begin in Court Today

Court hearings begin today on the Republican lawsuit to overturn the new Congressional map.

The stakes are high for the Illinois GOP, which could lose as many as five seats under the overhauled plan for the state’s 18 House districts. What’s more, time is running out to overturn the new lines with the early December filing deadline quickly approaching.

Republicans laid out their case last week in a memo asking the court for a permanent injunction. Republicans argued the new map creates “a racially gerrymandered district,” “dilutes the votes of Latinos” and “unconstitutionally discriminates against Republican voters.”

The GOP’s attorneys cited emails between a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee political aide, Ian Russell, and one of state Senate President John Cullerton’s top aides, Andrew Manar, as evidence that Democrats manipulated the process for political benefit.

A Feb. 24 email from Russell to Manar refers to a mutual “goal” of “more Democratic pick ups.” Republicans also cited a May 24 memo from Russell to Manar on “destabilizing Republican incumbents” and redrawing downstate Illinois to Democrats’ political advantage.

When questioned about his committee’s involvement in the Illinois redraw at a Nov. 4 press conference, DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) declined to comment on the pending litigation.

LOUISIANA: Unconventional Lawsuit Aims to Get Seat Back

The Pelican State lost one seat in the decennial reapportionment process, shrinking the House delegation from seven to six Representatives. On Monday, in an unusual move, state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell (R) sued to get the seventh seat back.

In the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Supreme Court, Caldwell alleged that the Census Bureau did not correctly count the nation’s population and thus incorrectly reapportioned Congressional representation. It thus “deprives the State of Louisiana of an additional Member of Congress to which the State is entitled,” Caldwell wrote in the complaint.

He alleged that the census illegally counted “non-immigrant foreign nationals” — such as foreign students, those here on temporary work visas and illegal immigrants — and therefore over-counted millions of people who were not “permanent residents of any state.” That, Caldwell concluded, led to an improper allocation of representation.

Democratic redistricting attorney Jeff Wice said this type of suit “has lost several times in the past.” What makes this one different, he said, is that it’s coming after reapportionment and claiming actual injury. Many similar suits that were unsuccessful in previous redistricting cycles were filed prior to reapportionment.

“It’s quite late in the process and this lawsuit could have been brought almost a year ago,” Wice said.

Caldwell’s filing comes 11 months after reapportionment, 10 months after the Census Bureau delivered its decennial count to the Pelican State, seven months after a new Congressional map was signed into law there and three months after that map was approved by the Department of Justice.

The attorney general’s office said in a statement it was not ready to file suit “earlier in the year due to a variety of reasons, including the Deepwater Horizon litigation demands, analysis of needed statistics, etc.”

In a statement to Roll Call, the Census Bureau said it conducted the 2010 census as it has always been done.

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