Missouri redistricting
6:17 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Mo. Supreme Court hears congressional map suits again

Two lawsuits challenging Missouri’s new congressional district map have been heard for a second time by the State Supreme Court.  The cases returned to the High Court after the map was upheld two weeks ago by a Cole County Circuit judge.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs continued their arguments that the districts drawn on the so-called Grand Compromise Map fails the state constitution’s compactness requirement.  Attorney Jamie Barker Landes criticized the new 5th District, which lumps three rural GOP-leaning counties with urban Jackson County, while also adding a slice of metro Kansas City onto the rural northern Missouri 6th District.

“It’s time to end the practice of dividing Jackson County up like a sausage," Landes said.  "Our citizens ought to be able to look at this map and say, ‘yeah, that looks as compact as may be.’”

Landes and fellow plaintiffs attorney Gerry Greiman have characterized the new 5th District as being shaped like a "dead lizard."  Attorneys defending the map included Solicitor General Jim Layton.  He argued that it’s not possible for everyone to agree on what is or is not compact.

“I think it’s just as fair to say that ‘as may be’ means you look at whether it’s compact, and then you say, ‘well, it can vary,’ according to the circumstances," Layton said.  "The 5th District meets that interpretation because largely it is a rectangle.”

A ruling is expected soon.  If the Missouri Supreme Court tosses out the map, lawmakers would have to redraw it during the current regular session.