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Missouri Supreme Court Delivers Good News for Plaintiffs Contesting Redistricting Map

A very important victory for plaintiffs contesting the newly redrawn Missouri Congressional Districts for the U.S. House of Representative was won on January 17, 2012 when the Missouri Supreme Court ordered the circuit court to hold a hearing to determine whether the districts drawn meet the State Constitution’s compactness test. The redrawn district was a result of the latest U.S. census. In its ruling on the state’s new congressional district map, the judges said questions remain about whether the districts “were drawn as compact as they may be.” Spencer Fane Partner Gerry Greiman represents the legal challenge funded by the National Democratic Trust. The lawsuit filed by Greiman on behalf of the plaintiffs complains Jefferson County near St. Louis is spread among three districts and argues the St. Louis region is left underrepresented. The new congressional map essentially eliminates the district of Democratic U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, of St. Louis. The judges questioned the shape of the 5th District in the Kansas City area and the new 3rd District, which stretches from central Missouri to suburban St. Louis. The new 5th now runs through urban Jackson County and is joined by three largely rural counties with very little in common. The new 3rd District is largely made up of the current mid-Missouri 9th District, with a slice of Carnahan’s current district. The new 3rd would stretch from Jefferson County to west of Jefferson City. “Districts 3 and 5 are alleged to be particularly suspect, as can be confirmed by any rational and objective consideration of their boundaries,” the judges wrote. The judges directed the circuit court to conduct a hearing and render a judgment by Feb. 3 “because time is of the essence … it is presumed that governmental entities will fulfill their duties in a timely manner for the 2012 elections.” Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green has scheduled what’s expected to be a three-day hearing beginning Jan. 31. Greiman said he was pleased with the ruling, noting he believes compactness involves the shape of a district and whether communities of interest and political subdivisions are kept together. “It upholds our theory and argument concerning the non-compactness of the districts,” he said. Please click here to read the Court’s opinion.

Recent update…Missouri Lawyers Weekly