The Supreme Court is being asked to invalidate the newly drawn map of the Missouri Senate districts.

This map shows the first map released by the reapportionment commission, as well as the second map (overlay) with the changes. The lawsuit filed in Supreme Court contends both are unconstitutional. (Click to enlarge.) Graphic design by Jessica Machetta

Attorney David Brown of Columbia says the appellate commission charged with redrawing the new Senate districts to reflect population shifts shown by the 2010 census did so behind closed doors … and that’s where the problems started.

“They chose to this process in secret — there’s been some controversy over that — if they would have done this in a public way, the problems in this map would have been pointed out and they would have avoided this mistake.”

“The mistake” he refers to is defined by the suit as violating the Missouri Constitution by unnecessarily splitting counties among several districts. When concerns about that map were brought forward, the commission released a second map. Brown says that, too, is illegal.

“The panel of judges filed a redistricting plan which is ordinarily the end of their duties … and then ten days later they filed another redistricting plan,” he says, “because the first plan is obviously unconstitutionally.”

AUDIO: Jessica Machetta reports (1:20 min.)

He says the commission only has the authority to put out one map, and if the first one is unconstitutional, both must be thrown out. If the Supreme Court agrees, the Governor must appoint a new panel of appellate judges and the process begins again. There is some urgency for a decision since candidate filing begins Feb. 28.

Brown says there is no precedent for a commission issuing a second map. The commission has been heavily criticized for deciding on the new districts behind closed doors … keeping most of the process secret.

View the lawsuit here:

Brown also contends in the suit that the new map would deprive voters in one district of Senate representation until 2015.