Court of Appeals advised to reject challenges to legislative redistricting

Judge Alan Wilner

Judge Alan Wilner

A special master appointed by the Maryland Court of Appeals to examine the legal challenges to legislative redistricting enacted earlier this year has found that all the challenges are without merit and should be denied. If the court accepts the recommendation in the report by retired appeals Judge Alan Wilner following a Nov. 7 hearing, it will uphold the plan Gov. Martin O’Malley submitted to the legislature in January.

Several plaintiffs filed suit against the legislative plan, including Baltimore County Democratic Sens. Delores Kelley and Jim Brochin, who strongly objected to the changes in their districts.

In a 74-page heavily footnoted report that weighs state and federal law and court rulings in great detail, Wilner in general accepted all the arguments made by state attorneys general and their consultant in defense of the O’Malley plan, and rejected all the plaintiffs’ arguments and evidence against it.

Wilner found that there was no regional discrimination, no partisan discrimination and no racial discrimination, even though many urban and Democratic districts were under-populated and rural and Republican districts were overpopulated.

But they were all within the 10% range allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court, Wilner found. He also found there was no partisan gerrymandering, even though evidence was presented that Republican legislators would be harmed. He also said that the plan conformed to federal Voting Rights Act for minority representation, despite one plaintiff’s assertion that it did not.

Wilner retired in 2007 from the Court of Appeals, Maryland’s highest court, but continues to hear some cases for the court when one of the seven judges is unable. He is one of the best-known and most influential appeals court judges during his 30 years on the bench.

But he also has more high level political experience than most judges. In 1977, Wilner was appointed to the Court of Special Appeals by Gov. Marvin Mandel, for whom he had served as chief legislative officer. Gov. William Donald Schaefer appointed him chief judge on the intermediate court. He was then appointed by Gov. Parris Glendening to the Court of Appeals.

–Len Lazarick  

About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.


  1. lenlazarick

    Keep in mind, folks, this is the legislative district map for the General Assembly, not the congressional districting map on the ballot as Question 5.

  2. abby_adams

    So according to the opinion of retired Judge Wilner, the heavily gerrymandered redistricting map is just fine and dandy. No evidence of voter suppression. Well maybe just a little, but no more than the 10% allowable. Despite the opinions stated by several liberal papers, one awarding our lame duck governor the “Tom Delay Award” for partisan gerrymandering election outcomes, the redistricting map is fine. IMHO no matter the political affiliation of the ruling party, gerrymandering with the specific goal of suppressing & diluting the votes of citizens is WRONG. Send a message to Annapolis, reject the Dems heavy handed attempt at voter suppression & dump the map.

  3. Bob Higginbotham

    I would guess that Wilner is a democrat and in O’Malley’s pocket. His skewed determination is evidence of his bias. The O’Mally redistrict plan is gerrymandering at its extreme. He has biased it to the point any republican will have an impossible fight to be elected in any Maryland district. The entire skewed map must be overturned in referedum.

    • Dream on

      Look at 1-B it is not more Democrat it is more Republican. If the Democrat thought he has a chance to win again he can keep dreaming.

      • Bob Higginbotham

        And how many legislative districts are there?

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