Missouri Redistricting
9:46 am
Tue January 31, 2012

Court hearing starts over Mo. congressional map

Updated 12:43 with comments from hearing.

Updated 4:29 p.m. with more commentary from hearing, additional information.

A Missouri political science professor says the state's new congressional districts could have been more compact.

University of Missouri-St. Louis professor David Kimball was the first witness during a court hearing about the constitutionality of the state's new U.S. House districts.

Kimball said the districts could be considered divided in a way that gives one political party an advantage, which is known as gerrymandering.

He also testified that districts proposed under alternative maps would have been more compact than the boundaries that state lawmakers ultimately approved.

Jim Layton, arguing for the state, told Judge Daniel Green that drawing a map that would meet everyone’s definition of compactness is impossible:

“The question before you, your Honor, will be:  Have these plaintiffs proven (that) the HB193 plan does not fall into the acceptable range?" Layton said. "And frankly, I don’t believe they can do it.”

The Missouri Supreme Court earlier this month ordered further legal review of the congressional districts. Several days have been set aside for the court hearing. The state high court has set a Friday deadline for a decision.

Earlier story:

A state trial court is reviewing the constitutionality of Missouri's new congressional districts just weeks before candidates are scheduled to start filing for this year's elections.

The hearing over the new U.S. House map started Tuesday before Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green. The Missouri Supreme Court earlier this month ordered further legal review of the congressional districts. Several days have been set aside for the court hearing. The state high court has set a Friday deadline for a decision.

Two separate lawsuits contend the new U.S. House districts are unconstitutional because they are not sufficiently compact.

Missouri is dropping from nine districts to eight based on the 2010 census.

Candidates can start filing Feb. 28 for this year's elections.