The Boston City Council will hold its weekly meeting on Wednesday at 12pm. It is expected the councilors will vote on the redistricting map. You can watch it live here.
It’s back to the old drawing board when it comes to the Boston City Council Redistricting Map. According to a federal judge, the city council most likely violated the Constitution when factoring race into the map. The judge also issued a preliminary injunction to bar the map’s use in the election coming up in November.
According to the Boston Herald, on Monday, US District Judge Pattie Saris ruled that the council violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment – which bars laws requiring segregation of the races when compiling the redistricting map.
Just to refresh your memory, last fall, the city council voted on a new redistricting map and it was approved by a 9-4 council vote. The four councilors who voted against the map were City Councilors Frank Baker, Erin Murphy, Ed Flynn and Michael Flaherty.
So what’s the big deal? Basically, the new district map would have taken several conservative-leaning and majority-white precincts in Dorchester out of District 3 and moved them in District 4. It also would have divided precincts in South Boston and moved them into District 3.
The plaintiffs that filed the suit against the map “demonstrated a likelihood of success in showing that race played a predominant role in the City Council’s redrawing of Districts 3 and 4 in the enacted map, and defendants have not demonstrated that the enacted redistricting map is narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling interest.”
The preliminary injunction is a victory for those who had been challenging the map, including at least two councilors who helped fund the lawsuit, plus city voters and local civic associations.
Councilor Frank Baker, who donated $10,000 from his campaign account to help fund the lawsuit released the following statement:
“I am pleased with the ruling because it supports my long-held belief that this map unfairly robbed District 3 and the citizens of Boston of its voice and was designed to weaken its position in Boston politics. Gerrymandering is gerrymandering- whether in pursuit of progressive or conservative goals. The court saw that an unfair map would deprive the residents of District 3 and the citizens Of Boston of their time-honored role and stature.”
Baker recently announced he would not be running for re-election.
City Councilor-at-Large Erin Murphy also released a statement regarding the ruling:
The Boston Globe is reporting that the ruling could cause a bit of confusion in the city’s election calendar. Saris noted in the order that the next election relying on the enacted map is this fall’s municipal contest. The deadline for submitting nomination papers for that election is May 23. Saris does mention in the ruling that it’s unclear if a deadline could be extended by the Boston Election Commission – the defendant in the case.
So now what? Well, it looks like the map goes back to the city council for redrawing. According to Saris, “In my view, the City Council is best positioned to redraw the lines in light of traditional redistricting principles and the Constitution.”