CITY HALL — The League of Women Voters led a federal suit filed Tuesday against the city's new ward remap.
The ward remap has created confusion in that it was adopted in 2012, after the most recent municipal elections, and is already being accepted by some aldermen, while others insist they should represent those who elected them until the next vote in 2015.
The suit, filed by attorney Thomas Geoghegan, who has based his practice on progressive issues including labor law and consumer protection, has two prongs: to end the "early bird implementation" of the new map before the 2015 election, and to redraw the map entirely.
"The suit also challenges the map itself," Geoghegan said. "The whole map has to be redone."
Helene Gabelnick, vice president of the League of Voters of Chicago, said the imposition of the new map left aldermen "untethered from their electorate."
"The aldermen are not accountable to citizens who are moved into redrawn wards, because they did not elect the aldermen," Gabelnick said.
"The voters of Chicago should be allowed to choose their aldermen rather than having the aldermen choose who their voters are," Geoghegan said.
Geoghegan cited the redrawn 2nd, 15th and 36th wards as particularly egregious examples of gerrymandering. Key to the suit's success, he added, was the ideal of "one person, one vote" and the fact that the approved remap allows for a deviation of 8.7 percent between larger and smaller wards.
"The wards differ in population by thousands of citizens," Geoghegan said. "There are some limits on gerrymandering, and one of the limits on gerrymandering is one person, one vote."
According to Geoghan, Ald. Patrick O'Connor (40th) said on the floor of the City Council that the map was drawn solely to get 41 of the 50 aldermen to vote for it, to make them think, "I'm secure" in seeking re-election, and to avoid a popular vote on the issue.
"That may be politics, and that may be the Chicago way," Geoghegan said. "But there are rules of law that have to apply."
Asked if an entirely new remap process would only add to confusion and cost the city money, Geoghegan replied, "This suit is going to end the confusion," adding, "The way to avoid a marathon battle is to follow the law. It's the easiest cost-avoidance system in the world. Follow the law."
The suit will seek an injunction against the imposition of the new map ahead of 2015 elections.
Filed by residents across Chicago, it names the city as the defendant. Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office did not reply to requests for comment.