Federal Court Tosses Boston Redistrict Map Months Before Election

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — It's back to the drawing board for the Boston City Council. A federal judge said the city can't use its newly redistricted map in this year's municipal elections.

Judge Patti B. Saris ruled late Thursday on an injunction brought by three residents of newly-redistricted areas in the city. She found the plaintiffs' argument that the maps were based on racial considerations above others compelling, saying the map could violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment if allowed to stand.

Among other changes, the new map splits up historically-white neighborhoods in District 3, which angered council conservatives.

The at times-heated redistricting process took place over the course of about nine months, from January to November 2022. It eventually passed the city council 9-4 and was signed into law by Mayor Michelle Wu.

The federal ruling could throw the November 7 election into chaos. It's unclear if Boston will appeal the decision, or if it has time. City councilors need to formally declare for the election by May 23, but they may not even know which district they're representing. Judge Saris noted these concerns in her opinion, but ultimately decided that the potential 14th Amendment problems for the plaintiffs were greater.

WBZ NewsRadio has reached out to former Redistricting Chair Councilor Liz Breadon and Mayor Michelle Wu's office for comment.

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