JEFFERSON CITY, MO.(AP)-A state trial court is reviewing the constitutionality of Missouri’s new congressional districts just weeks before candidates are scheduled to start filing for this year’s elections.
The hearing over the new U.S. House map began today before Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green. The Missouri Supreme Court earlier this month ordered further legal review of the congressional districts. Several days have been set aside for the court hearing. The state high court has set a Friday deadline for a decision.
Two separate lawsuits contend the new U.S. House districts are unconstitutional because they are not sufficiently compact.
The first to testify today, a Missouri political science professor, said the state’s new congressional districts could have been more compact. University of Missouri-St. Louis professor David Kimball said the districts could be considered divided in a way that gives one political party an advantage. That is known as gerrymandering. He also testified that districts proposed under alternative maps would have been more compact than the boundaries that state lawmakers ultimately approved.
The Missouri Supreme Court earlier this month ordered further legal review of the congressional districts. Several days have been set aside for the court hearing. The state high court has set a Friday deadline for a decision.
Candidates can start filing Feb. 28 for this year’s elections.
Meantime, a Missouri senator said the committee in charge of redrawing the state’s legislative districts should open its meetings and records to the public.
Republican Jason Crowell, of Cape Girardeau, testified before a Senate panel Monday for a proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution subjecting state apportionment commissions to the state’s open meeting laws.
If approved by the full Senate and House, Crowell’s proposed amendment would go on a statewide ballot.
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