Democrats file 3rd lawsuit over new Kansas congressional map

March 2, 2022 GMT

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democrats in Kansas filed a third lawsuit Tuesday against a congressional redistricting law enacted by the Republican-controlled Legislature, arguing that GOP gerrymandering aimed to “practically void” Democratic votes in the liberal enclave of Lawrence.

Four Democrats from the northeast Kansas city filed the lawsuit in Douglas County District Court, claiming that the new law violates the Kansas Constitution. It moved Lawrence from the 2nd District of northeast Kansas into the sprawling 1st District of central and western Kansas with conservative Republican communities hours away by car.

The U.S. Supreme Court declared in 2019 that partisan gerrymandering is a political issue and not for the federal courts to resolve. That still leaves the question of whether state courts might declare that the Kansas Constitution separately bars gerrymandering.

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The lawsuit filed Tuesday and two others filed last month in Wyandotte County District Court ask for just such a ruling.

Republican lawmakers dismissed allegations of gerrymandering.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a Republican running for governor, already has filed a petition with the Kansas Supreme Court, asking it to intervene and declare that partisan gerrymandering isn’t an issue for the state courts, either. Schmidt spokesperson John Milburn said the Democrats who filed the lawsuit Tuesday “appear to be raising the same legal questions.”