April 28, 2011

Redistricting suit seeks speedy resolution from judges

Plaintiffs want to move up the timeline to redraw Maine's two congressional districts.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Janet Mills, former Maine attorney general, is representing Democrats in the case.

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Tim Woodcock, a lawyer from Bangor, is representing the Cape Elizabeth plaintiffs.

The judicial panel consists of U.S. District Court Judges for Maine D. Brock Hornby and George Singal and First Circuit Judge Bruce Selya, the chairman.

Selya said the case will be considered in phases. Initially, the judges will determine whether the imbalance in the districts violates the plaintiffs' constitutional rights to due process and the principal of one person, one vote. If there is no violation, then the case ends and the redrawing schedule remains as is.

If the judges decide the current arrangement does violate the plaintiffs' rights to equal representation, they will then consider how to remedy the imbalance.

That could involve calling the Legislature into special session to consider district boundaries or having the judges decide, Selya said.

Having the three-judge panel hear the case shows the importance the court assigns to it, Woodcock said. An appeal of the panel's ruling would go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, he said.

The lawsuit ostensibly targets Gov. Paul LePage, Secretary of State Charles Summers and Republican legislative leaders. The Maine Attorney General's Office is charged with arguing to keep the district-redrawing schedule the way it is. A spokesperson for the office would not comment on the pending litigation.

 

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

 

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