WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, Feb. 18, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R) filed a petition in the Kansas Supreme Court asking it to block two lawsuits challenging the state’s new congressional districts. The lawsuits at issue, Rivera v. Schwab and Alonzo v. Schwab, argue that the new congressional map is a partisan gerrymander that favors Republicans and dilutes minority voting strength in violation of the Kansas Constitution. The attorney general, who filed the petition on behalf of Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab (R), argues that these lawsuits, which were filed in state district court, raise nonjusticiable political questions that the Kansas judicial system cannot adjudicate and the lawsuits should be dismissed.
In asking the state Supreme Court to dismiss the two lawsuits, the attorney general argues that “Never before in Kansas history have congressional maps been challenged in state courts, and for good reason: Kansas state courts lack jurisdiction to pass on the constitutionality of congressional maps.” Schmidt alleges that “it would be unconstitutional for the district court to consider challenges to congressional district maps” because the Kansas Constitution does not ban partisan gerrymandering. The lawsuit also argues that the plaintiffs have failed to bring a proper racial vote dilution claim “because—even if they allege discriminatory effect—their petitions are devoid of any concrete allegations of discriminatory intent.” Due to these reasons, the lawsuit asks the Kansas Supreme Court to exercise jurisdiction and decide that state courts cannot play any role in evaluating enacted redistricting plans. If the state Supreme Court does decide that it can rule on enacted maps, the lawsuit asks the court to dismiss the two challenges because neither brings a viable claim of partisan gerrymandering or racial vote dilution.