Several of Illinois’ Republican members of Congress came to Chicago to testify today on the first day of their legal challenge to a new Democratic-drawn congressional map.

Rep. John Shimkus was the first of four Republican incumbent congressmen to testify in what is scheduled to be a two-day trial. The three-judge panel in U.S. District Court will rule on GOP claims that the new map unfairly represents a growing Latino population and unlawfully gerrymanders Republicans to benefit Democrats.

Lawyers for the state said in opening statements that the new map does not violate the federal Constitution and voting rights’ act guarantees for minorities.

Shimkus testified that U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, a 23-year Democratic congressman from a neighboring southern Illinois district, came to him in early spring of this year to attempt to negotiate a bipartisan congressional map. The two later met one-on-one in Shimkus’ hometown of Collinsville, where Costello, of nearby Belleville, presented rough maps to the Republican.

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