Just four days after the Republican-controlled Kansas legislature approved the state’s 2022 congressional reapportionment map, Democrats are asking a county court to strike it down.
The complaint was filed on Feb. 14 in Wyandotte County District Court by attorneys from the Grissom Miller Law Firm of Kansas City, Missouri, and the Elias Law Group of Washington D.C. on behalf of several Kansas residents and activist group Loud Light.
The Elias Law Group is headed by Democrat election lawyer and strategist Marc Elias, who served as attorney for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Elias is widely credited for engineering election law changes in key swing states that helped Democrats in the 2020 election, and he has challenged redistricting plans in Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, and other states in the 2022 election cycle.
The GOP-sponsored redistricting plan divides the state of Kansas into four congressional districts, each with 734,470 people.
The constitutionally mandated reapportionment process occurs every 10 years and is based on data provided by the latest decennial census.
Taking into account population growth or decline, the process readjusts congressional district lines to ensure that all citizens receive equal representation, and that each person’s vote counts equally.
Earlier this month, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, a Democrat, vetoed the Republican plan, but her veto was overridden last week by a two-thirds vote of both houses of the state legislature.
Democrats believe the Republican plan was drafted to lessen the reelection chances of Democrat Congresswoman Sharice Davids.
Davids is an openly gay native-American and the only Democrat on Kansas’ four-member congressional delegation.
The Elias lawsuit alleges that the Republican plan is “political gerrymandering” designed to maximize their own party’s advantage.
Why Was the Case Filed in a County Court?
In 2019 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that partisan gerrymandering complaints will not be taken up by federal courts.
The plaintiffs contend that the rights guaranteed them by the Kansas state constitution are violated by the newly adopted state plan.
The complaint reads in part, “The enacted plan elevates partisan gains over Kansans’ constitutional rights at the expense of Democrats, racial minorities, and the state’s young people.”
The rights allegedly violated are the right to vote, equal protection under the law, free speech, and the right to assembly.
The complaint states, “Racial vote dilution is equally offensive to our democracy and violative of the equal protection guarantee of the Kansas Bill of Rights.”
Republicans contend the population growth in Davids’s district necessitated its division in order to maintain the principles of population equality and one-man-one-vote. Minority voters removed from her district increase the diversity of the district to which they were moved, they say.
The defendants in the case are Republican Secretary of State Scott Schwab and Wyandotte County Election Commissioner Michael Abbott, a Schwab appointee.
Schwab spokesperson Whitney Tempel told The Epoch Times on the afternoon of Feb. 14 that the secretary had not yet been served with the suit, and, therefore, could not comment.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a Republican, has promised a vigorous defense of the enacted plan.
Schmidt spokesman John Milburn told the Associated Press, “The plaintiffs are hoping state courts, which in the past have not reviewed federal congressional districts, will write new rules to their advantage.”
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a similar suit in Wyandotte County District Court on the same day.