The term “gerrymandering” came from Massachusetts in 1812 when newspaper editors said a district was drawn in the shape of a salamander to favor certain candidates. A lawsuit filed in Missouri says our new map has some critters of its own.

Final Petition for Congressional redistricting lawsuit (click to view PDF).

When Missouri lost a congressional seat in the 2010 census, the House and Senate passed new district maps that bring our delegate total from nine to eight.

Now St. Louis attorney Gerry Greiman is challenging the map in court.

AUDIO: Jessica Machetta reports [mp3, 1:20 min.]

He says Missouri has historically split the vote 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, but this map clearly marks a 75-25 difference in favor of Republicans. The lawsuit, financed by the National Democratic Redistricting Trust, says the state’s new congressional districts were drawn to benefit Republicans, and Greiman says that violates state and federal requirements.

And he says it lumps together communities that have little in common, pointing to the district that goes from the center of urban Kansas City into some of Missouri’s most conservative rural areas 100 miles to the east. Grieman says the new fourth district looks like a three-headed toad; the new fifth district looks like a dead lizard.

The Chairman of the Republican-controlled Missouri Senate committee responsible for redistricting, says he’s not surprised a suit’s been filed, but says he’s confident districts are fair.

The new congressional map merges two Democratic congressmen into the same St. Louis district and splits the district currently held by Democrat Russ Carnahan.

Carnahan says he supports efforts to give Missourians fair, effective representation in congress instead of a crass political powergrab that divides our communities in half.