WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday night, a lawsuit was filed against Kentucky’s new state House and congressional maps. The lawsuit was filed hours before the Republican-controlled Kentucky Legislature overrode Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) veto of the new state House and congressional map. However, given that the candidate filing deadline of Jan. 25 is fast approaching, the plaintiffs — a group of voters and the Kentucky Democratic Party — suggest that injury due to these maps is “imminent.” The complaint argues that the challenged maps are partisan gerrymanders that favor Republicans and unnecessarily split counties in violation of the Kentucky Constitution. The lawsuit asks the court to declare the maps unconstitutional and order the creation of new maps that comply with the state constitution.
The lawsuit focuses on how Republicans in the state Legislature allegedly created districts “to increase and entrench Republican control of the General Assembly and Kentucky’s Congressional delegation.” The plaintiffs argue that Republicans unnecessarily split county lines to achieve this partisan outcome, putting populations of different counties together to “punish and diminish Democratic voters’ influence by using their past voting patterns to select Democratic-leaning precincts and specifically pair them with other areas that would more than cancel out their voting power.” The plaintiffs allege that the new state House map illegally creates 75 safe Republican districts and nine competitive districts out of the 100 state House districts, while the new congressional map diluted Democratic voting power in order to shore up votes for two Republican incumbents. The lawsuit argues that these intentional partisan gerrymanders, along with unnecessary county splits, violate numerous provisions of the Kentucky Constitution, including the free and equal elections clause, equal protection rights afforded to Democratic voters and the right to free speech and assembly.