Topeka, KS – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt yesterday filed motions in Wyandotte County District Court seeking to dismiss two challenges to the recently enacted congressional district map.
“Plaintiffs ask this Court—for the first time in Kansas history—to hold that the Legislature’s redrawing of federal congressional maps violates the Kansas Constitution,” Schmidt wrote in the motions filed on behalf of Secretary of State Scott Schwab and Wyandotte County Elections Commissioner Michael Abbott. “There is good reason this lawsuit finds no support in precedent: Neither the U.S. Constitution nor any exercise of the state’s lawmaking power, including the Kansas Constitution, authorizes state courts to invalidate federal congressional maps—and certainly not under the legal theories Plaintiffs advance.”
The motions were filed after the Kansas Supreme Court refused to dismiss the Wyandotte County challenges and a similar case filed in Douglas County District Court. The Kansas Supreme Court did not address the merits of the plaintiffs’ claims when making their decision. The justices allowed the challenges to proceed in district court and encouraged an expedited process, citing the pending deadlines for the 2022 election cycle.
The attorney general continues to argue that neither the U.S. Constitution nor the Kansas Constitution grants state courts jurisdiction to hear the types of legal challenges to federal congressional districts presented in these cases.
“The Elections Clause [of the U.S. Constitution] commits the redistricting power to state legislatures, and no Kansas law—either statutory or constitutional—gives the state courts any role in evaluating the validity of duly enacted redistricting plans,” Schmidt wrote.
Schmidt said the plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate a viable claim that the congressional map was politically unfair because the boundaries favored one political party over another. He noted that the Kansas Supreme Court has never held that a redistricting map constitutes a political gerrymander in violation of the Kansas Constitution.
“And once again, there is good reason for this lack of precedent: Political gerrymandering claims are simply not justiciable,” Schmidt wrote.
Schmidt also asked the Wyandotte County District Court to hold that the plaintiffs have not alleged racial gerrymandering that is judicially actionable.
“[A] claim of unconstitutional vote dilution requires proof of discriminatory purpose, which Plaintiffs have failed to allege,” Schmidt wrote.
Copies of Schmidt’s motions to dismiss are available at https://bit.ly/3hMZ54l.