OVERLAND PARK, KS - A Wyandotte County Judge ruled in favor of Kansas voters challenging new, legislatively drawn congressional maps which plaintiffs argued were targeted for political and racial gerrymandering.
Judge Bill Klapper found that the maps violate the rights of Kansans and struck it down.
Despite Klapper’s ruling, the case likely moves on to the State Supreme Court.
“We are thankful that Judge Klapper saw this map for what it was – a deliberate attempt to silence the political voices of Democratic and minority Kansans,” said Sharon Brett, the ACLU of Kansas’ legal director. “Although we know this case is not over yet, we look forward to settling this issue and securing the rights of our clients in the Kansas Supreme Court.”
Three, separate lawsuits were filed challenging the congressional map passed by the Kansas Legislature in February: one by the ACLU of Kansas, Campaign Legal Center, and Arnold & Porter; another by The Elias Group and former U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom; and a third by former U.S. Attorney and Kansas Solicitor General Stephen McAllister, as well as other lawyers from Dentons.
“Kansas voters of all parties and races deserve fair and neutral maps that take community input into account and allow voters to make their voices heard,” said Paul Smith, senior vice president at Campaign Legal Center.
The cases center on arguments that Kansas lawmakers produced maps that create unconstitutional racial vote dilution. The map’s new boundaries, rammed through the legislature, drowns out the voices of voters in Wyandotte County and in Lawrence.
Specifically, the map removes the northern part of Kansas City from the 3rd District seat and put it in the neighboring 2nd District, which includes Topeka, but also rural communities across eastern Kansas. It also lumps bright-blue Lawrence in deep-red western Kansas.
Brett said there’s too much at stake to stop fighting now.
“This is an attempt by politicians to choose their voters, rather than have voters choose their politicians,” Brett said. “We’re literally fighting for our democracy.”
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About the ACLU of Kansas: The ACLU of Kansas is the statewide affiliate of the national American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU of Kansas is dedicated to preserving and advancing the civil rights and legal freedoms guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For more information, visit our website at www.aclukansas.org.