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Court ruling puts Ray Co.’s senate, congressional maps in flux

By JoEllen Black/Richmond News

Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday overruled Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel R. Green’s decision to dismiss all legal challenges to the constitutionality of the state’s U.S. Congressional district map approved by the General Assembly in May 2010. In a separate ruling, the court also ordered Gov. Jay Nixon to set up a new bi-partisan commission to re-draw the state Senate boundary map.

In a unanimous decision, the judges questioned the compactness – a state constitutional requirement for redistricting – of District 3 in St. Louis and District 5 in the Kansas City area that includes Ray County.

“Districts 3 and 5 are alleged to be particularly suspect, as can be confirmed by any rational and objective consideration of their boundaries,” the ruling said, notating the oral arguments of Attorney General counsel who said they couldn’t defend the compactness of District 5 and considered it “problematic.”

The high court did not say how Judge Green should rule, only that he must render a judgment no later than Feb. 3 to give time the General Assembly time to redistrict the state, if necessary, and hopefully not to disrupt the candidate filing process, which begins Feb. 28.

The decision is good news for Rep. Joe Aull, D-Marshall, a vocal critic of the redistricting map when it passed both the House and Senate last year.

“I think the court was right in rejecting the map. I’ve said that all along,” Aull said Wednesday.

“The map we adopted violated the constitution because it was not as compact as it can be.  Adding a hundred miles to that district instead of including all Jackson County was improper.”

Under the plan considered by the court, Ray, Lafayette and Saline counties would join Kansas City and its suburban communities in the 5th District, now represented by Democrat Emmanuel Cleaver.

 

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