Judge to make redistricting decision Tuesday, candidates continue to file

01/30/2012 04:28 PM

Legislative candidates will continue to file for the 2012 election in the house and senate under the newly drawn district maps, at least for now. After a nearly three hour hearing Monday morning Franklin Circuit Judge Phil Shepherd decided to wait to make his decision in the case until he can review the documents, and said he would not grant an injunction, if he does at all, until an evidentiary hearing takes place.

The judge said he would issue a ruling by close of business Tuesday, which is cutting things awfully close considering the deadline to file is 4:00pm Tuesday.

Several House Republicans filed a legal challenge on Thursday in Franklin circuit court. They have raised questions of the constitutionality of the map drawn by house democrats. The house republicans argue that the map needlessly splits too many counties, and in the case of two districts relied on two pieces of land to connect two disparate counties.

Lawyers for the republicans requested an injunction against the Secretary of State and the Board of Elections to postpone the filing deadline, saying, it’s unacceptable to close nominations and certify a candidate in an unconstitutionally drawn district. Victor Maddox made a motion to postpone the May 22nd election.

Lawyers argued that the house map is invalid because, in part, one district exceeds 5% population and more than the minimum number of counties possible are being split.

But, Pierce Whites, the lawyer representing House Speaker Greg Stumbo was quick to answer when it was his turn saying they, “disagreed entirely.” Whites recognized that district 24: Larue, Marion and Washington Counties is at 5.38% in population, but he argued the rules to divide the population only call for a 10% margin.

Lawyers representing Sen. Kathie Stein also challenged House Bill 1 on the senate side, saying it also does not follow the population guidelines.

The argument on population guidelines is an interesting one because, as lawyers for House Speaker Stumbo point out, they are drawn from competing constitutional principles; the federal principle is to maintain maximum population deviation of 10% and the other is state, which says to avoid splitting counties whenever possible. Mr. Whites says, that those two guidelines do not mesh and are the cause of a lot of this confusion.

Judge Shepherds will take Monday and part of Tuesday to review all the facts and should present his ruling Tuesday afternoon.


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