facebook linkedin twitter

Kansas Court Strikes Down Gerrymandered Congressional Map 

April 25, 2022 by Dan McCue
Kansas Court Strikes Down Gerrymandered Congressional Map 
Judge Bill Klapper

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A Kansas judge on Monday tossed out a congressional district map drawn by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature, holding that it was an unlawful partisan gerrymander aimed at diluting the power of Black and Hispanic voters in and around Kansas City.

The lawsuit challenging the map, Rivera v. Schwab, was filed in February 2022 by Kansas voters and the nonprofit organization Loud Light with the support of the National Redistricting Foundation.

The lawsuit claimed the map, known as “Ad Astra 2,” inexplicably shifted a large number of Kansans out of their prior districts, in violation of the state’s redistricting guidelines. 

This practice primarily targeted the Kansas counties of Wyandotte and Douglas, which include predominantly Democratic voters and voters of color. 


Specifically, they said, the Republican gerrymander of congressional maps split the Black and Hispanic communities of Kansas City into two separate districts, and diluted the votes of those communities by lumping them into districts that are overwhelmingly white and Republican. 

Instead of preserving the Kansas City metro area in one congressional district, the gerrymandered map unnecessarily divided the metro area in half. 

The lawsuit also took issue with the division of Douglas County, which contains the city of Lawrence, where about one in four residents identify as a member of a minority community. 

It placed Lawrence into a separate district from the rest of Douglas County in spite of a 2012 court ruling against such a division. 

The 2012 court decision specifically said that the areas were “more appropriately placed entirely within” the same district. 

Wyandotte County District Court Judge Bill Klapper agreed, calling the map passed over the veto of Gov. Laura Kelly earlier this year to be “motivated at least in part by an intent to dilute minority voting strength.” 


“The court has no difficulty finding, as a factual matter, that ‘Ad Astra 2’ is an intentional, effective pro-Republican gerrymander that systemically dilutes the votes of Democratic Kansans,” Klapper said.

He went on to say it “intentionally and effectively dilutes minority votes in violation of the Kansas Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.”

Klapper’s 209-page ruling is the first time a Kansas judge has applied the state constitution to congressional redistricting. It is almost certain to be appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court.

The state has consistently argued that it would be improper for the courts to second-guess the Legislature, arguing the U.S. Constitution endows that body — not state courts — with the power to draw new lines.

But Klapper rejected that argument, citing a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions that he said uphold a state court’s right to review the lines when a dispute arises.

“When the Kansas Legislature violates the Kansas Constitution, including in its enactment of congressional redistricting legislation, Kansas courts have the power and duty to exercise judicial review and invalidate the Legislature’s unconstitutional action,” Klapper wrote.

“This decision is a victory for Kansans across the state, who raised their voices demanding a fair congressional map, and were ignored by their Republican-led Legislature,” said Marina Jenkins, director of Litigation and Policy for the National Redistricting Foundation, in a written statement.

“The court rightfully halted a map that would have diminished the ability of many Kansas voters, but particularly the state’s voters of color, to participate in the democratic process and elect members of Congress who accurately represent their communities,” she continued. “Republicans underestimated the tenacity of Kansans and our preparedness to fight against their extreme gerrymander.” 

Sharon Brett, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas, one of several parties to the litigation against the map, also applauded the ruling.


“We are thankful that Judge Klapper saw this map for what it was — a deliberate attempt to silence the political voices of Democratic and minority Kansans,” she said in a statement. “Although we know this case is not over yet, we look forward to settling this issue and securing the rights of our clients in the Kansas Supreme Court.”

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

A+
a-

In The News

Health

Voting

Redistricting

May 23, 2022
by Dan McCue
State Court Approves Controversial CD Map for New York

ALBANY, N.Y. — A state court judge formally approved a controversial new congressional map Friday night, ratifying a map that... Read More

ALBANY, N.Y. — A state court judge formally approved a controversial new congressional map Friday night, ratifying a map that could prove costly to Democrats while forcing two of the state’s most prominent House members to square off against each other in the upcoming primary. Steuben... Read More

May 19, 2022
by Dan McCue
New York’s State of Mind: BAM! BANG! KRUNCH! KAPOW!

NEW YORK — It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In reliably blue New York State, where more than 53%... Read More

NEW YORK — It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In reliably blue New York State, where more than 53% of registered voters identify as Democrats, a newly drawn district map was supposed to serve as a bulwark against Republicans taking control of Congress in January.... Read More

May 19, 2022
by Dan McCue
Missouri Governor Ratifies State’s New Congressional Districts

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday signed a bill formally revising the boundaries of the state’s... Read More

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday signed a bill formally revising the boundaries of the state’s eight congressional districts, ending one of the more bitter standoffs of the entire redistricting “season.” "Today, we signed into law a congressional map that meets our... Read More

May 18, 2022
by Dan McCue
Kansas Supreme Court Upholds Controversial Redistricting Maps

TOPEKA, Kan. — The Kansas Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a Republican-drawn congressional map that divides a racially diverse portion... Read More

TOPEKA, Kan. — The Kansas Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a Republican-drawn congressional map that divides a racially diverse portion of the Kansas City metropolitan area, despite concerns the new district lines will dilute the minority vote. As previously reported in The Well News, the lawsuit... Read More

May 11, 2022
by Dan McCue
Florida Judge Declares DeSantis Map Unconstitutional

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida judge declared a congressional district map approved by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis unconstitutional Wednesday because... Read More

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida judge declared a congressional district map approved by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis unconstitutional Wednesday because it intentionally “Diminishes African Americans’ ability to elect the representative of their choice.” Leon County Circuit Court Judge Layne Smith made his announcement during a video... Read More

May 6, 2022
by Dan McCue
Ohio Redistricting Panel Resubmits Rejected Map to Court

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As a strategy, it probably falls into the category of “Maybe they won’t notice.” On Thursday, the... Read More

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As a strategy, it probably falls into the category of “Maybe they won’t notice.” On Thursday, the Ohio Redistricting Commission voted 4-2 to resubmit state legislative district maps to the Ohio Supreme Court that the court has already rejected twice, holding them to... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top