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Kansas Supreme Court: Racial discrimination not proven in Ad Astra 2 map

Ad Astra 2 Redistricting Map
Posted at 1:53 PM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 14:53:24-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas Supreme Court reversed a Wyandotte County judge's decision that declared the Kansas legislature's Ad Astra 2 map unconstitutional last month, meaning that for the next 10 years, Wyandotte County will be split in two, and Lawrence, Kansas, will be separated from Douglas County when voting in federal elections.

The Kansas Supreme Court has now released its full opinion on the map, delivered by Justice Caleb Stegall.

READ THE KANSAS SUPREME COURT'S FULL OPINION

Justice Stegall stated in the court's opinion that the sections of the Kansas Constitution cited by the plaintiffs do not "provide an independent basis for challenging the drawing of district lines," and that it is constitutional for legislators to use "partisan factors" when drawing district lines.

He also said that drawing districts based on race violates the constitution, which protects from racial gerrymandering and efforts that attempt to minimize a minority group's vote.

However, the Kansas Supreme Court says the Wyandotte County District court judge did not use the proper test, established by the United States Supreme Court, to determine if the Ad Astra 2 map unconstitutionally targeted minority populations, and the plaintiffs did not legally prove "unlawful racial gerrymandering or unlawful race-based vote dilution."

The Ad Astra 2 map was initially created by the Kansas Legislature. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed the bill, but her veto was overridden by the legislature.

This led to two lawsuits based in Wyandotte County, challenging the map and claiming it violated the Kansas Constitution's equal protection clause.

Wyandotte County Judge Bill Klapper ruled that the map violates the Kansas Constitution and targeted minority Democratic voters, saying that the map deprived "voters of substantially equal voting power." Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt then filed a petition for the Kansas Supreme Court to make a ruling.

The court announced on May 18 that it found the map did not violate the state constitution.