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Redistricting map case heads to Missouri Supreme Court

After the circuit court in Cole County dismissed the challenge to the new Missouri Congressional map, plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal Dec. 13 with the state Supreme Court.

The case involves a number of St. Louis area Democrats who challenged the redistricting map that was approved by the Republican-controlled state House and Senate. A new map had to be drawn following the 2010 Census, as the state will lose one of its nine congressional districts. The new map was vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon and then overturned by the General Assembly.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Gerald Greiman of Spencer Fane Britt & Browne LLP said they plan to pursue the case “vigorously.”

In Kenneth Pearson et. al. v Chris Koster et. al. the plaintiffs argued that the map discriminates against Democrats and is unfavorably skewed toward Republicans.

The new map eliminates the largely urban 3rd District now represented by U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis. The 9th District, which was largely rural, was redrawn to take in some St. Louis suburbs and renamed as the 3rd, which now extends from suburban St. Louis to past Jefferson City.

Opponents argue that legislators improperly manipulated the existing urban districts by dividing them up and parceling out portions into districts that otherwise are primarily rural.

“There are a lot of problems,” Greiman says. “It splits communities of interest in mid-Missouri. It leaves the St. Louis region unrepresented; substantial parts of it are in a district of rural Missouri. A crazy-looking district (5th District) in Kansas City joins an urban portion with rural areas.”

In fact, a similar lawsuit was filed by a group of Kansas City Republicans challenging the congressional map. That suit was combined with the suit filed by Greiman on behalf of St. Louis area Democrats.

Both suits allege that the new map improperly seeks to protect eight incumbent members of Congress, including all six current Republicans.

But on Dec. 8, Judge Daniel Richard Green dismissed both cases for failure to state a claim.

So far, Jamie B. Landes, the attorney representing the Kansas City area residents has not filed an appeal.

The new Missouri congressional map will take effect with the 2012 election.