Missouri’s U.S House Districts are again being challenged in Supreme Court. Much of the high court’s focus was on Jackson County and surrounding areas.
The state constitution says Congressional districts must be drawn “as compact and nearly equal in population as may be.”
Attorney Gerry Greiman says a tear drop section that was carved out of the fifth district and added to the 6th lumps urban Jackson County voters with a wide swath of rural territory. The 6th District comprises most of northern Missouri, from state line to state line.
Judge Gary Lynch questioned his definition of compactness, asking if there are eight definitions, as Greiman indicated, then by which standard should the map be drawn to meet constitutional muster?
Judges Ray Price and Laura Denvir Stith were equally as inquisitive of the defense, asking State Solicitor James Layton how a tear drop carved out of Jackson County’s 5th district could be anything but a violation of the constitutional compactness rule.
This is the second time the case has been heard in Supreme Court, which last time remanded the case back to Cole County Circuit Court.
The state constitution says districts have to be composed of contiguous territory as compact and as nearly equal in population as may be. Greiman contends the map does not do that and is a clear case of gerrymandering.
Missouri lost a congressional seat in the 2010 census because our state’s population did not keep pace with other states’ growth.
The legislature that was charged with drawing the boundaries is Republican controlled. Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the map, but the Legislature had enough votes to override that veto.
The case before the Supreme Court includes two suits rolled in to one case. The suits, cohesively, object to the Kansas City and Jackson County districts, the 3rd District in central Missouri, which reaches eastward to the St. Louis, as well as the two “lobster claws” that surround St. Louis proper. The suit also points to faults in the state’s west-central 4th District and the 7th District to the southwest.
AUDIO: Jessica Machetta reports (1:08)