Court Upholds Redistricting Maps Drawn by Kentucky Republicans – 89.3 WFPL News Louisville
A court ruled on Tuesday against Democrats’ challenge to new political maps drawn by the Republican-led legislature in Kentucky.
The Democrats have argued that lawmakers unconstitutionally changed districts in the state House of Representatives and the US Congress to benefit GOP candidates during the once-a-decade redistricting process earlier this year.
But, in an order of 72 pagesFranklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate said the Kentucky Constitution does not prevent lawmakers from considering politics when crafting maps.
“The plaintiffs made an admirable effort to pursue their claims and succeeded in establishing at trial that [the redistricting bills] are partisan gerrymanders,” Wingate wrote. “However […] the Kentucky Constitution does not explicitly prohibit the General Assembly from making partisan considerations during the apportionment process.
Wingate went on to say that “the Court must base its decision not on what is perceived to be more just or equitable, but rather on what is provided for in the Kentucky Constitution.”
Following the implementation of the new cards, Republicans strengthened their majorities in the Legislative Assembly from 75 to 80 of the seats of the 100-member House of Representatives and from 30 to 31 seats of the 38-member Senate.
The Kentucky Democratic Party, Frankfort Democratic Rep. Derrick Graham and four Franklin County residents filed a lawsuit earlier this year, arguing that the maps violate the state constitution by dividing counties into multiple districts.” for no legitimate purpose” and more times than necessary to create neighborhoods of approximately equal size.
They also argued that the provision of the Kentucky Constitution guaranteeing “free and fair” elections requires that elections “be free from excessive partisan gerrymanders.”
In a statement, Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Colmon Elridge said that despite the ruling, the court upheld the party’s argument that Republicans had gerrymander the districts.
“As evidenced by Tuesday’s election, the Republican majority worked behind closed doors to draw districts that carved out cities and counties for partisan purposes to beat incumbents they couldn’t beat on a playing field. fair. Their gerrymandering is wrong and disenfranchises hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians. Where the Kentucky Republican Party cannot win, it uses its supermajority to ensure that the most Kentuckians with the least power lose,” Elridge wrote.
The party did not respond to questions about whether it would appeal the decision.
Kentucky Republicans were in charge of the redistricting process for the first time in state history this year. Prior to 2016, Democrats controlled at least one chamber of the Legislative Assembly or the governor’s office throughout the modern era.
The plan of the house further divides several urban areas of the state and connects them to rural districts in surrounding areas. Democrats argued the plans diluted the political power of racial minorities in the state and made it harder for progressives to get elected.
Congress card includes an oddly shaped 1st Congressional District that winds its way from the western tip of the state to Frankfort in central Kentucky. The move makes the 6th congressional district more Republican-friendly by removing Democratic-heavy Frankfurt from its western flank.
Although Democrats have had limited success challenging gerrymandered maps in other parts of the country, Wingate ruled Thursday that Kentucky has no such legal protections.
“The Court recognizes that the constitutions of other states prohibit partisan gerrymandering or assign redistricting to a nonpartisan committee, but this Court’s concern relates only to the Kentucky Constitution,” Wingate wrote.
Republican House Speaker David Osborne welcomed the decision in a statement, saying the new cards “meet all legal and constitutional requirements.”
“These plans are the product of a committed effort to address all considerations while maximizing the influence of each community to the greatest extent possible. Despite this commitment and the involvement of countless stakeholders in an extremely thorough process, some chose to play politics with the situation and falsely claimed the plans were unconstitutional,” Osborne wrote.