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Politics takes center stage in Kansas Supreme Court arguments over new KS Congressional district maps

Live at Five
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 6:25 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A battle over the state’s new Congressional district map that some say unfairly targets democrats and minorities landed before the Kansas Supreme Court,

The justices heard arguments Monday in the state’s appeal of a lower court decision that the new boundaries are unconstitutional.

The ruling stems from three lawsuits challenging the legislature’s decision to split Wyandotte County into two Congressional districts, and move Lawrence from the second district to the largely rural first district.

Opponents argue Republicans engaged in gerrymandering to split Democratic communities of influence, and disenfranchise minority voters.

Sharen Brett, an attorney for ACLU of Kansas, said the actions of Republicans leaders go beyond letting the political process play itself out.

“The mapmaker set out with the intention of drawing an entire political party out out power. A party that had the ability to elect a representative of their choice previously and now under the new map does not,” she said.

Attorneys for state election officials say the district court overreached its authority. Brant Laue, Kansas Solicitor General, said judges should not buy into political rhetoric.

“There is no legal basis to say that because politics has resulted in someone being a loser that there is suddenly a constitutional right,” he said.

The Court is expected to issue an expedited ruling in the case. With the maps still up in the air, the Secretary of State’s office announced late Monday that it had extended the filing deadline for U.S. House, Kansas House, and Kansas State Board of Education seats from June 1 to noon, June 10. The deadline to change political party affiliation also is extended to noon, June 10.

Lawmakers return from break next week Monday, May 23.

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