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Redistricting lawsuits heard before Mo. Supreme Court

The legal battle over Missouri’s new congressional map resumed today. 

TheState Supreme Courtheard arguments over whether the so-called “Grand Compromise Map” fails to meet the State Constitution’s compactness requirement.  Attorney Gerry Greiman argued for the plaintiffs in one of two lawsuits against the map.  He says like-minded people should be joined together in the same district.

“That’s why the 5thDistrict is so bad, because you take urban Jackson County and you join with them three largely rural counties that may have very little in common with them," Greiman said.  "On the other side of the state you take Jefferson County, which has about 200,000 people; it’s split into three different congressional districts, not just two...that's ridiculous.”

Solicitor General Jim Layton defended the congressional map.  He says it meets standards established by past court rulings in Missouri and in other states.  Arguments against the map include claims that it was drawn to protect incumbents.  Layton suggested that safeguarding an incumbent’s district is not necessarily illegal.  He used southeast Missouri Congresswoman Jo Ann Emersonas an example.

“They kept Ms. Emerson’s district largely intact," Layton said.  "She’s 115th in seniority and a member of the majority party…that is a rational basis for drawing a district in that regard.”

The High Court also heard a separate lawsuit today against the new State Senate map.  It’s a revision of the map originally issued by a six-judge panel in late November – plaintiffs argued that the revised map is invalid because the six-judge panel automatically dissolved after issuing its first map.

No rulings have been made yet in any of the redistricting cases heard today. 

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.