Judge weighs constitutionality of redistricting

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky's deadline for filing to run for
legislative seats was in flux on Monday because a judge did not
immediately rule on a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of
newly redrawn district boundaries.

Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd said he expects
to enter a ruling in the case by mid-week.

"I will say that I am very mindful of the fact that this
decision is one that is time sensitive," Shepherd said at the
conclusion of the four-hour hearing Monday afternoon.

House Republicans unhappy with the outcome of a contentious
redistricting battle filed a lawsuit in January challenging the
constitutionality of newly drawn legislative boundaries, claiming
they favor Democrats. A Democrat who was displaced from her Senate district joined the lawsuit.

The lawsuit contends that the new legislative districts could
have been better balanced by population and that they could have
been drawn in a way would have required fewer splits in counties
and precincts.

Shepherd had issued a temporary restraining order last week that
pushed the legislative filing deadline to the close of business on
Tuesday. He said Monday he may extend that for a couple of days if
necessary to allow him time to enter a judgment on the
constitutionality of the newly drawn districts. He gave no
indication as to how he may rule.

Kentucky's Democratic-controlled House voted largely along party
lines on Jan. 12 to redraw boundary lines in a way that sets up
Republican vs. Republican races in three House districts. One
unfortunate Republican would face powerful House Democratic Floor
Leader Rocky Adkins in northeastern Kentucky.

The new legislative districts produced some oddly shaped
boundaries. The 89th House stretches from the Tennessee border in
McCreary County, zigzags narrowly through Laurel County, then
encompasses all of Jackson County for a geographic setup that one
lawmaker said would require an airplane for travel. One Senate
district stretches from Barbourville to Morehead.

Kentucky is one of 25 states with pending court cases involving
redistricting. A similar Kentucky lawsuit filed after the 1990
census established some of the case law that House Republicans
reference in their challenge.

Congressional redistricting has also proved challenging for
Kentucky lawmakers. After weeks of negotiations, House Democrats
and Senate Republicans were nearing an agreement last week.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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