FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 18, 2022
CONTACT: Mark McCormick, Director of Strategic Communications, 913-490-4113, [email protected]
OVERLAND PARK, KS - In a stunning blow to Wyandotte County and Lawrence voters, the Kansas Supreme Court Wednesday upheld a legislatively drawn map that voting rights advocates said were examples of a racial and partisan gerrymander.
It is likely that the so-called “Ad Astra” map, that sliced Wyandotte County in half and drowns progressive-voting Lawrence in a sea of rural conservative western Kansas voters, will set the boundaries relied upon for the next 10 years.
“We’re obviously very disappointed for our clients,” said Sharon Brett, legal director for the ACLU of Kansas. “Equal protection under our state’s constitution is supposed to mean something. But as a result of this decision, minority voters and Democratic voters will have their voices diluted for the next ten years. The ACLU of Kansas will never stop fighting for the rights of all Kansans, and this decision won’t change that fact.”
Lawyers in the three plaintiff cases said they will not appeal.
The state’s candidate filing deadline is June 1, Kansas ballots sent to military service members must be mailed by June 17, and the primary election is in early August.
“The Kansas Supreme Court’s reversal of the lower court’s decision is a slap in the face to voters and runs afoul of the democratic values spelled out in Kansas’ own Constitution,” said Paul Smith, Senior Vice President of Campaign Legal Center. “The Kansas Legislature crafted gerrymandered maps that purposefully divide Kansans based on their race and political views to serve their political interests instead of the community’s needs. Campaign Legal Center will continue fighting for fair maps, because Kansas voters deserve to choose their politicians instead of the other way around.”
District Court Judge Bill Klapper said in a previous ruling that the state Constitution protected against political gerrymandering that divided communities of color.
“This court suggests most Kansans would be appalled to know how the contest has been artificially engineered to give one segment of the political apparatus an unfair and unearned advantage,” Klapper wrote.
ACLU of Kansas Executive Director Micah Kubic, said the fight will continue.
"This case is only one skirmish in the wholesale assault on democracy in Kansas and around the country," Kubic said. "Although today's ruling is disappointing, we will continue to use every ounce of energy we've got to defend democracy and protect our shared values. In defending democracy and our values, we don't give up, we don't give out, and we don't give in. As politicians in Kansas continue to try to denigrate our democracy, the ACLU, our supporters and our partners will be there to stand in their way."
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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.