KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The battle over redistricting in Kansas continues.
Democrats argue the Ad Astra 2 congressional map that the Kansas Legislature approved has been racially gerrymandered. Lawsuits filed over the issue are now being heard in Wyandotte County court.
Sharon Brett, the legal director for the ACLU of Kansas, said the Republican-controlled legislature tried to drown out the voices of Democratic voters with the congressional map it passed.
“In particular, they intentionally split the Black and Hispanic community in Wyandotte County away from crossover voters in Johnson County to dilute those minority voices,” Brett said Friday.
Brett represents 11 voters in Wyandotte, Johnson and Douglas counties who were upset at the way the maps were drawn.
“They’re voters who are registered Democrats, have voted Democrat in past elections and then under the Ad Astra 2 map, will have their voices and their political voices diluted, so they will not be able to elect a representative of their choice,” she said.
The northern part of Wyandotte County would go into Congressional District 2, represented by Republican Rep. Jake LaTurner.
People in southern Wyandotte and Johnson County would still be represented by Congresswoman Sharice Davids, the only Democrat from Kansas in the U.S. House, but the Republican party hopes they can take the seat away from her if the new lines stay in place.
Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt said neither the U.S. or the Kansas Constitution grants state courts jurisdiction to hear legal challenges to federal congressional districts. Brett said the legislature passed a map that doesn’t work for all Kansans.
“Instead, the public has felt that this map was predetermined and rushed through the Republican supermajority in the Kansas Legislature without really considering the input that Kansans had provided at the few opportunities that they had to do so,” she said.
Ad Astra 2 also moved Lawrence from the 2nd Congressional District into Kansas’ Big 1st, which covers all of the western part of the state, so the more Democratic city would now be lumped in with even more conservative communities.
The redistricting trial continues Monday at 9 a.m. The Wyandotte County District Court will issue a ruling sometime in the next 10 days, and then there likely will be an appeal that will go to the Kansas Supreme Court.