From the Harford County Democratic Central Committee:
Today’s court ruling upholding the Harford County Council’s decision to exclude a representative of the Democratic Party on the council redistricting commission only points to the need for a new law to provide a level of fairness to the process, according to the presiding Circuit Court Judge.
Judge John Fader, a retired Baltimore County Judge appointed to hear the case in Harford County Circuit Court, ruled that he had no choice but to deny the Harford County Democratic Central Committee’s request to block the County Council from accepting a redistricting plan from a commission that does not include any Democrats. He said to rule otherwise would be creating “new law” and that as a trial judge he cannot do that. He also cited the unfortunate fact that when the Harford County Charter was created there was no procedure for documenting legislative hearings, which might otherwise provide insight into the intent of the framers of the County Charter.
But Judge Fader said the issue raised by the Harford County Democratic Central Committee is an “important question” that involves the principle of “one person, one vote” that can only be settled by the Court of Appeals.
Wendy Sawyer, Chair of the Democratic Central Committee and named plaintiff in the suit, said “the Judge ruled for the Council simply because there is no law on the matter. He strongly encouraged us to appeal to get this matter resolved.”
“The failure of the Republican-led Harford County Council to form a Charter Review Commission to consider this issue has led us to this point,” said Ms Sawyer. “We filed this suit because we believed the Council used an error in the Charter to try to exclude Democratic influence in the redistricting process, which we believe violates both state law and the U.S Constitution. The Judge’s decision today only supports that belief.”
The Harford County Democratic Central Committee will be meeting with attorneys over the next few days to decide their next course of action.