After redistricting reform was mentioned in President Obama’s State of the Union address, some Illinois Democrats in Congress are expressing support for the idea, but on a nationwide level.
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-Naperville) says he’s in favor of the current initiative to change how state legislative districts are drawn through a constitutional amendment, even though he thinks this issue shouldn’t be addressed state-by-state.
“It should be solved nationally,” Foster said. “Basically, my attitude is I’ll put down my gun when they put down theirs, and that is the correct solution for this nationally.”
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For example, Foster said a simultaneous change with the redistricting processes in Illinois and Pennsylvania, where Republicans hold majorities in both legislative chambers would “net out neutral for both parties, and better for the United States.”
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) won’t give his opinion on the current Illinois initiative, saying he needs to look at it more closely, but he also favors a nationwide solution because it can address how congressional districts are drawn.
“This may raise some constitutional issues, federal constitutional issues, about how this is going to be determined, whether there’s going to be a standard established by a state that is consistent with federal constitutional standards,” Durbin said.
Durbin’s career in elected office never took him through the state legislature, but he says he saw both sides of the argument on remapping districts when serving in the U.S. House from 1983 to 1995.
“The reality is this: it’s a very political process. As a congressman, I benefitted from it one time, and then 10 years later, I was the victim of it,” Durbin said.
If enacted, the current proposed state constitutional amendment would only cover how state legislative districts are drawn.
Jim Bray, spokesman for Independent Maps, welcomed Foster’s support and Durbin’s comments on the issue, saying in a statement, “Prominent members of both political parties, as well as independent voters, believe the current system is unfair and that we need to reform the rules and switch to an impartial, transparent and fair process of drawing election maps.”