Judge tosses Kansas GOP-drawn map of Congress
A Kansas judge tossed out a GOP-drawn map of Congress for the Sunflower State on Monday, directing the legislature to draw new lines before the June nomination deadline.
Wyandotte County District Judge Bill Klapper — who the Associated Press says is an elected Democrat — said the redistricting lines were drawn to “intentionally and effectively” maximize a Republican advantage in the Congressional delegation of the Kansas, and ruled the card diluted the vote. power of minority communities in Wyandotte County.
“The Buddha says that the only consistent thing in the universe is change. You don’t have to be a Buddhist to realize that change is always happening. It is certainly possible to disagree about change, such as its speed, direction, and impact,” Klapper wrote in the decision. “We must not be naive enough to believe that change can be prevented by suppressing its voice.”
The maps would have diminished Rep. Sharice Davids’ (D-Kansas) strong hold on the 3rd congressional district by dividing Wyandotte County, which contains Kansas City, into two districts. Wyandotte and Johnson counties were the only two of five Kansas counties that President Biden won in the 2020 presidential election.
Davids is the only Democrat representing Kansas in the House.
Monday’s rejected map would have moved part of Wyandotte County into the neighboring 2nd Congressional District, which is represented by Rep. Jake LaTurner (R).
In exchange, David’s district would add parts of Miami County, which is conservative, and all of Franklin and Anderson counties. About two-thirds of the votes garnered in Miami and Franklin counties in the 2020 presidential election went to then-President Trump. The former president won more than 75% of the vote in Anderson County.
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly (D) vetoed the map in February, arguing the lines did not follow guidelines set by the courts and the legislature on how to draw lines “fairly and constitutionally” in the state. The GOP-controlled Senate, however, overruled the veto in a 27-11 vote.
But the map then became the target of three lawsuits, according to the AP, with plaintiffs including voting rights group Loud Light and 20 voters from Kansas City and Lawrence. The lawsuit named Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab and local election officials as defendants.
According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, one of the issues presented was that the redistricting wrongly divided the Kansas City area.
Klapper’s decision on Monday was in response to those three consolidated lawsuits, the AP noted.
Some Democrats said the proposed redistricting lines were an example of gerrymandering, while some Republicans called the partisan in power because of Kapper’s Democratic affiliation, according to the AP.
The Hill has reached out to Kelly for comment.