Illinois GOP leaders sue over Dems’ new district map: ‘They should be ashamed’
BY DAVE MCKINNEY Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief July 20, 2011 12:46PM
State Rep. Tom Cross
Updated: October 27, 2011 12:32AM
SPRINGFIELD — The General Assembly’s top two Republicans filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday seeking to undo the set of House and Senate boundaries that Gov. Pat Quinn approved that could give Democrats a decade-long legislative stranglehold.
House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) allege in the lawsuit that the Democratic map violates the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 by depriving black and Latino voters a “fair opportunity” to have their voices heard in the redistricting process.
They contend that the map violated the state Constitution because too little time for public and legislative review was set aside by ruling Democrats and because districts are not compact as the Illinois Constitution dictates.
They also say that the map violates the First Amendment rights of GOP voters because it “dilutes” their voting power.
“The Democrats passed a map this session that we believe is in direct violation of the Federal Voting Rights Act and some of our most basic rights under the constitution,” Cross said in a prepared statement.
“They should be ashamed of themselves. We are optimistic that the court will agree with us and will help give our residents a fair map that accurately reflects our population, especially our growing Latino population,” he said.
The two GOP leaders want a federal judge to require the General Assembly to redraw the House and Senate boundaries, appoint an impartial “special master” to redo the lines, or require the appointment of a legislative redistricting commission to take on the task.
Also named as co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit are state Rep. Adam Brown (R-Decatur) and four individuals of black and Latino heritage, including Veronica Vera, an Orland Park resident and former paid staffer to GOP gubernatorial candidate Adam Andrzejewski and Chicago resident Angel Garcia, a donor to the Cook County Republican Party.
Quinn’s office defended the legislative maps that the governor approved, saying they were composed after multiple public hearings and with input from minority groups.
“The 2011 redistricting process represented the first time the people of Illinois were able to participate in the remap process by taking part in more than 30 public hearings held throughout the state,” Quinn spokeswoman Annie Thompson said. “This open and transparent process resulted in a map that represents our diverse state and protects the voting rights of minorities.”