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updated: 7/21/2011 1:38 AM

Illinois GOP challenges Democrats' political map

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  • Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross filed suit Wednesday to try to upend Democrats' legislative political map.

      Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross filed suit Wednesday to try to upend Democrats' legislative political map.
    Photo by Mark Black

 
 

SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois Republicans led by the suburban leadership of the House and Senate challenged Democrats' new legislative political map in federal court Wednesday, saying new boundaries are unfair to minorities.

The map, drawn every 10 years based on new census numbers, is causing problems for Republican candidates in the suburbs. Democrats' lines are forcing some of them into tough decisions to either run against each other, move or retire.

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The lawsuit filed Wednesday argues that in drawing the boundaries of Illinois House and Senate districts, Democrats didn't follow federal law requiring districts friendly to Hispanic and black voters.

"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," House Republican Leader Tom Cross said in a statement.

Gov. Pat Quinn responded, saying public hearings gave people a chance to weigh in on the map's eventual outcome.

"This open and transparent process resulted in a map that represents our diverse state and protects the voting rights of minorities," said Quinn spokeswoman Annie Thompson.

Cross, of Oswego, is joined by Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont in the suit, which doesn't challenge the new districts for Congress. A different suit could challenge that map later.

In the complaint, Republicans argue that Democrats were too secretive in the map-drawing process and specifically targeted Republicans lawmakers for defeat in 2012.

"Additionally, many of these bizarrely shapen districts are clearly intended to slither across traditional lines in order to place multiple incumbent Republicans into one district," the suit says.

Among those lumped together are Republican Reps. Dennis Reboletti of Elmhurst, Chris Nybo of Elmhurst and Patti Bellock of Hinsdale in one district. Radogno and Sen. Ron Sandack of Downers Grove both live in another.

Whether that kind of political gamesmanship is illegal, though, will be up to a federal court. Partisan political maps are often challenged in court, but the lawsuits haven't succeeded in the past.

Earlier this year, Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady of St. Charles filed a suit challenging parts of the redistricting rules, but that lawsuit lost.

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