WASHINGTON, D.C. — On April 25, a Kansas trial court judge struck down the state’s new congressional map after concluding that it is an extreme partisan gerrymander that favors Republicans and dilutes minority voting strength in violation of the Kansas Constitution. The decision comes after a trial was held in early April in three consolidated cases challenging the map. The court ordered the Kansas Legislature to adopt a new congressional map “as expeditiously as possible.”
In his 200+ page opinion, the judge outlined his findings following extensive witness and expert testimony presented at trial. First, agreeing with various evidence presented by experts, the judge concluded that the congressional map “successfully gerrymanders Kansas’s congressional districts to ensure that Republican candidates will likely win all four of the state’s congressional seats.” Further, this pro-Republican bias cannot be justified by Kansas’ redistricting guidelines or political geography and, given that no Democrats supported this plan, the judge found that the map was intentionally designed to “give Republicans a partisan advantage” in violation of multiple provisions of the Kansas Constitution. Second, the judge concluded that the map “intentionally and effectively dilutes minority votes,” particularly in Wyandotte County and northern Johnson County, eliminating the ability of minority voters to elect their candidates of choice. The judge concluded that this dilutive effect was intentional, noting that “there is persuasive evidence that the Legislature intended to dilute minority voting strength by cracking minority voters in northern Wyandotte into CD 2 and by drowning the minority voters who remain in CD 3 in an overwhelmingly white district.” Finally, the judge rejected the defendants’ arguments that partisan gerrymandering claims and the constitutionality of a congressional map are not suitable for state courts to rule on.