The lawsuit was expected in a fight over the map Democrats got to
draw because they control the Illinois Legislature and the
governor's office. Republican state lawmakers filed a federal
lawsuit last week over the legislative map for new Illinois House
and Senate districts because of the damage it could impose.
Democrats have defended both maps as being fair. Gov. Pat Quinn
signed them into law last month.
"Ensuring that everyone's voice is heard in government is a
fundamental part of our democracy. ... This open and transparent
process resulted in a map that represents our diverse state and
protects the voting rights of minorities," Quinn spokeswoman Annie
Thompson said in a statement.
The latest lawsuit was filed by the Committee for a Fair and
Balanced Map, a group that includes such prominent Republicans as
former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and 10 of the 11
Republicans in Illinois' congressional delegation. They claim the
new map "blatantly discriminates against Latino and Republican
Only GOP Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson from central Illinois
didn't join the lawsuit, which also names a handful of Republican
and Latino voters as plaintiffs.
Johnson spokesman Phil Bloomer said that while the congressman
believes the redistricting was unfair and hopes a court might undo
it, he's focused on other things. "These challenges have never
succeeded in the past so he's decided to devote his energy and his
resources to re-election," Bloomer said.
The new map could be devastating for Republicans as Democrats
nationally try to retake control of the U.S. House after losing it
The Illinois map dismantles traditional GOP areas and gives
Democrats a chance to win them in the 2012 election by packing
incumbent Republicans together in districts or squeezing them into
Democrat-friendly districts with Democratic incumbents, according to
the complaint. Illinois sent five GOP freshmen to Washington in the
2010 election, including Rep. Bob Dold, who won Republican U.S. Sen.
Mark Kirk's old seat.
[to top of second column]
"The proposed congressional plan ... effectively reverses the
results of the 2010 congressional elections by redrawing districts
so that the citizens of Illinois that gave Republicans an 11 to 8
advantage in Illinois's congressional delegation only nine months
ago would see the state's congressional delegation transformed to
one with 12 Democrats and only 6 Republican," according to the
Illinois' new map has 18 instead of 19 congressional districts
because of the state's slowing population growth.
Republicans also contend the map hurts Latino voters. By packing
"excessive numbers" of Latinos into a new 4th Congressional
District, now represented by U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, the map
dilutes Latino voters in other districts. They accuse Democrats of a
Republicans also contend the map was drawn to protect the white
majority in some districts to save Democratic incumbents.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or
MALDEF, didn't comment on the congressional map lawsuit challenge.
Last week, MALDEF said it was still studying the state redistricting
map after state lawmakers filed their lawsuit.
Other Latino leaders have urged support for both the state's new
legislative and congressional maps, suggesting that Latino groups
shouldn't join Republicans in their efforts to defeat the maps.
By DEANNA BELLANDI]
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or