With the redistricting data from the 2020 census not yet released, the Illinois General Assembly drafted and passed a state legislative redistricting plan on May 28, 2021, using population estimates derived from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey ("ACS"), which the state's Governor signed into law on June 4, 2021. On June 10, 2021, a group of Latino-American voters filed a lawsuit against the Illinois State Board of Elections, its members, and the leaders of the Illinois General Assembly, challenging the constitutionality of the enacted legislative plan. The plaintiffs allege that because the legislative plan was drawn using ACS population estimates, rather than the final 2020 census enumeration data, the plan cannot ensure that districts are substantially equal in population as mandated by the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause and its one person, one vote principle. The plaintiffs are seeking a declaratory judgment that the plan violates the 14th Amendment and injunctive relief barring the defendants from implementing the plan and requiring them to draw and establish properly apportioned legislative districts as measured by the 2020 census population data when released. On June 25, 2021, the case was reassigned to be handled by the same judge presiding over a related case, McConchie v. Ill. State Bd. of Elections.

On October 19, 2021, the district court issued an opinion granting summary judgment to the plaintiffs and striking down the June redistricting plan on the grounds it violated the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. The court found that the plaintiffs had made out a prima facie case for a 14th Amendment one person, one vote claim by showing that the June plans had maximum deviations of 29.9% in House districts and 20.3% in Senate districts, deviations which are particularly large given the technological advances in redistricting. The court rejected the state's argument that the plans' deviations and underlying use of ACS figures were justified by the need to promptly pass redistricting plans given the delayed release of census data with ACS data being the "best alternative source" for redistricting data at that time, stating that there would have been ample time for the State to enact a plan following the August 2021 release of the official census data and noting the Census Bureau and several courts have explicitly stated that ACS data is not to be used for redistricting. The court also rejected the State's argument that they were under a "constitutional duty" to complete redistricting by June 30, explaining that the General Assembly's desire to retain map drawing authority does not justify violations of the one person, one vote constitutional principle. Notably, the court not only struck down the June redistricting plans, but also invalidated the September revisions to the plans using official 2020 Census data on the grounds they were substantially based off the malapportioned June plans. As for the remedy, the court stated it would treat the General Assembly's September 2021 plans as their remedial plans submission.

Plaintiffs submitted their proposed remedial legislative plans on November 10, 2021. On November 17, 2021, the court established the following remedial phase deadlines: Defendants' remedial submissions due by November 24, 2021; Plaintiffs' reply submissions due by December 1, 2021; if a trial or hearing is needed, it will commence on December 7, 2021.

On December 30, 2021, the three-judge panel issued a per curiam opinion finding in favor of the defendants and upholding the challenged districts. The court found that there was sufficient evidence of crossover voting in the relevant areas to defeat the plaintiffs' claims of racially polarized voting, which is the third Gingles precondition required to establish a Section 2 violation. Furthermore, the court rejected the plaintiffs' racial gerrymandering claims on the grounds that the General Assembly's overwhelmingly predominant consideration when drawing the plans was political, not racial. While noting that partisan gerrymandering remained controversial, the court nevertheless cited the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling of federal nonjusticiability in Rucho v. Common Cause and stated that such issues are to be resolved outside the federal courts.


U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division - No. 1:21-cv-3139