Kentucky Supreme Court hears arguments in redistricting lawsuit

The congressional district and state House district maps are at the center of this lawsuit.
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 7:34 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky’s Supreme Court heard arguments on gerrymandering Tuesday.

Democrats believe Republicans violated the state constitution when setting new district lines.

Political experts say, while not surprising, cases like these have become part of a national movement.

The congressional district and state House district maps are at the center of this lawsuit.

Districts, which define the area an elected official represents, are adjusted every ten years by the Legislature to reflect changes in population and often favor the party in power.

“You know our constitution asked us to pay homage to the proposition that counties shall not be split. We all agree that no longer works. It doesn’t matter if the Democrats did it when, then and now ya’ll are doing it now. It just no longer works,” said Justice Michelle Keller.

One map puts Frankfort in the same district as most of western Kentucky. It’s represented by prominent GOP Congressman James Comer.

“Even if we did switch to a map that didn’t have that Comer Hook, stretching from West Kentucky up to Franklin County, it’s really unlikely it would make any difference to our congressional delegation,” said Dr. Stephen Voss, an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Kentucky.

Democrats say the other map breaks up more Democratic areas like Lexington for representation in the state House. They claim both maps give the GOP an unfair and unconstitutional advantage.

Republicans maintain they followed the law. Their lawyers argue it’s just a Democratic reaction to being the super minority.

“The lawyers here and elsewhere are hunting big game. They’re looking down the road to a national Supreme Court case that permanently changes how districts get drawn in states around the country. So, really, Kentucky is just a small battle in a much bigger war,” Dr. Voss said.

Some states have non-partisan commissions that draw up districts. So far, Kentucky hasn’t adopted that method of drawing the lines.