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Redistricting battle heads to court

The main argument is what lawmakers approved violated the state’s constitution. “It is an undisputed fact that 28 counties were divided,” Victor Maddox told Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd during Monday’s hearing.

And some say new district lines don’t make sense. Such as the 80th House district stretching from northern Madison County, taking all of Rockcastle, using only a smidgen of Pulaski, to get to all of Casey. Or the “Laurel zigzag,” as lawyers call it, to connect Jackson to McCreary County. “Our position is that this is an intolerable situation,” said Maddox.

House Republicans filed the suit but a Senate Democrat joined their cause. Kathy Stein’s district was moved out of Lexington and her argument is now included.

There were allegations aired in court that the Kentucky House Speaker used politics over what the constitution allows in the redistricting process. But Speaker Greg Stumbo’s legal counsel argued that Kentucky’s 120 counties in a relatively small geographic area make drawing district lines difficult. “Was simply saying ‘politics trumps the constitution’ is not true,” said Pierce Whites, the speaker’s legal counsel.

The plaintiffs want Tuesday’s filing deadline for state seats pushed back. The secretary of state’s lawyers argued against that. “There was no discussion of immediate or irreparable injury in the argument we heard earlier,” David Tachau, who represents the Secretary of State’s office, argued.

Judge Phillip Shepherd says he’ll rule whether to extend the deadline by the close of business Tuesday.

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