Court rules to continue with redistricting lawsuit despite call for Special Session
06/28/2013 01:03 PM
A federal district court denied the House Speaker’s request to delay the lawsuit over redistricting, and the court set up a back-up plan to draw the new legislative maps in case lawmakers fail in a special session in August.
Gov. Steve Beshear made the call for a special session beginning Aug. 19 to create and pass new legislative and judicial districts. Legislative leaders and the governor promised the work would not exceed five-days.
That’s why Beshear on Friday expressed surprise at the judge’s decision.
“It’s surprising that the court has elected to initiate these extensive proceedings in advance of a scheduled special session, which could eliminate these issues entirely,” Beshear told Pure Politics in a statement.
In denying the order to stay the lawsuit the judge said he would prepare to draw the legislative maps if lawmakers failed to draw them in time and scheduled a hearing for Friday Aug. 23, which would be the last day of the special session.
U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove wrote in his decision that the courts must be ready to step in quickly if the legislature can’t pass maps that adhere to the constitutional requirements.
“Finally, if, and only if, the legislature is unsuccessful in passing constitutional legislative districts sufficiently in advance of the November 4, 2013, residency deadline, the Plaintiffs request that the Court be prepared to fulfill its statutory duty and provide constitutional legislative district plans so that fair elections may go forward in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Typically, this requires the Court to consider expert testimony and maps proposed by the parties at a trial, after which the Court will adopt a legislative redistricting plan for the next election cycle.”
Stumbo reiterated that work would be completed in the five-day timetable in a brief statement sent to Pure Politics by his staff.
“We expect to complete our business in five days, which should make the matter moot,” Stumbo said in a statement.
Boone County Clerk Kenny Brown who brought the lawsuit aimed at urging the General Assembly to pass new maps ASAP said he was “encouraged” with the decision to continue with the lawsuit in the event lawmakers could not complete the maps.
“I’m cautiously encouraged by what the legislators are doing, but they could come up with maps that could be deemed unconstitutional. So I’m pleased the court is moving forward with it,” Brown told Pure Politics.
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