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BALTIMORE (AP) - Federal judges reviewing Maryland's congressional redistricting map say there is convincing evidence the state's Democratic leaders drew the districts to gain a seat for their party.

A three-judge panel heard arguments Friday as part of a lawsuit.

The panel was divided about whether the 2011 redistricting plan directly caused former Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett to lose his seat and whether the map should be changed.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Republican leaders in the Virginia House of Delegates are rebuffing a request from the governor to drop their legal defense of legislative districts Democrats say are unconstitutionally gerrymandered.

House Speaker William Howell, Majority Leader Kirk Cox and finance chairman Chris Jones told reporters Thursday they're confident in the 11 districts that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a day earlier must be re-examined.


ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A panel is recommending Maryland reform its congressional and state legislative redistricting process by creating an independent commission to draw the districts.
The panel sent recommendations on Tuesday to Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican who appointed them to explore reforms.
The commission would have nine members. Three of them would be affiliated with the Democratic Party, and three would be affiliated with the Republican Party. Three others would not be associated with either party.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A panel of federal judges has rejected a lawsuit alleging that the Virginia House of Delegates illegally packed black voters into a dozen legislative districts.

The judges ruled 2-1 Thursday that the House redistricting plan approved in 2011 was constitutional and did not improperly gerrymander the legislative map to concentrate African Americans into 12 legislative districts and diminish black voters' influence in the rest of the state.