Legal Move To Stop GOP Gerrymandering Of State Maps Announced


The court fight over redistricting is continuing this week with a new lawsuit out of Kentucky, where plaintiffs including individual voters and the state Democratic Party have brought an urgent challenge to the state legislative and Congressional district maps that have been approved by state legislators. Kentucky Democratic Governor Andy Beshear vetoed the maps that state legislative leaders had approved, but those on the side of the maps in the legislature had enough votes on their side to override that move and set up the maps for usage in upcoming elections. The new lawsuit was filed before state legislators overrode Beshear’s veto maneuver, with plaintiffs pointing to “imminent” negative impacts — the deadline for candidates to file to run in upcoming elections is January 25.

As summarized by the voting rights organization Democracy Docket, the new lawsuit “argues that the challenged maps are partisan gerrymanders that favor Republicans and unnecessarily split counties in violation of the Kentucky Constitution.” As with other cases, those behind this lawsuit are seeking for the maps to be declared as unconstitutional and replaced with more fitting ones. The lawsuit argues that Republicans responsible for the map moved to “punish and diminish Democratic voters’ influence by using their past voting patterns to select Democratic-leaning precincts and specifically pair them with other areas that would more than cancel out their voting power.” The lawsuit insists that the Kentucky lines “violate numerous provisions of the Kentucky Constitution, including the free and equal elections clause, equal protection rights afforded to Democratic voters and the right to free speech and assembly,” Democracy Docket explains.

It’s the same sort of thing that’s been observed in other places where Republicans have led the redistricting process. In Ohio, for instance, Republicans approved Congressional maps that sectioned off suburbs of Cincinnati with a substantial Black population and tacked them onto a district that was mostly white and Republican — although those Ohio lines have since been struck down in court and ordered to be redone. State legislators were ordered to submit a new map within 30 days of the ruling (which was handed down earlier this month), and if state legislators fail to fulfill this requirement, the matter will move to the Ohio Redistricting Commission. Ohio state Supreme Court Justice Michael Donnelly observed after arguments were presented that “[when] the dealer stacks the deck in advance, the house usually wins,” adding that state legislators “produced a plan that is infused with undue partisan bias and that is incomprehensibly more extremely biased than the 2011 plan that it replaced.” In Ohio, new district lines for the U.S. House and state legislature were recently struck down.