Madigan’s biggest political accomplishment was not without its detractors, however. A three-member panel of federal judges, for example, was displeased.
They found Madigan’s map, which extended certain city districts into predominantly white areas to save Democrat seats, unconstitutionally diluted black voting strength in Chicago.
That ruling stood as the first time a northern state had found the Democratic Party guilty of intentional discrimination against minorities, according to the Tribune.
A year later, those legislative boundaries in question were still up for grabs, and Madigan was worried. Reportedly at his request, the U.S. District Court removed a requirement for the map to be published, because Madigan didn’t want his name on the court battle.
He was considering a run for governor. And he was scared of being labeled a racist.
“It’s a travesty,” then-state Rep. Carol Mosley-Braun, D-Chicago, told the Tribune in 1983. “Mike did draw the map, and he’s got to live with that. It’s just that simple.”
Madigan has drawn the state’s legislative map twice more since then, after the 2000 and 2010 censuses.
The 2012 elections saw a new district splintering Decatur and Springfield by race, connecting areas of the two cities containing more black voters. It was Madigan’s doing, and it worked. That tinkering let Democrats pick up a Senate seat and a House seat they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Due to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling prohibiting drawing borders “primarily” to create minority districts, House Democrats had to argue in federal court that they drew the district this way for partisan reasons.
As if there were any question.