The Kentucky Supreme Court has blocked the use of new boundaries for Kentucky’s 138 legislative districts. The decision came Friday afternoon, just hours after the state’s highest court heard oral arguments in the legal challenge to the new map.
The two page ruling rules the new redistricting law, which was passed last month, unconstitutional. The justices, in a unanimous decision, ordered election officials to use the ten year old map for this year’s statehouse races.
Time was a big reason because candidates have to be certified by Monday and the primary is set for May 22. Thus, the high court did something it rarely does, conduct a hearing and issue a decision on the same day.
Carving out 100 House districts and 38 Senate districts is required by law once a decade because of population shifts. The new law was challenge by three Republican State Representatives and Democrat Senator Kathy Stein, who would have been forced out of office at the end of 2012 by the new map. The court challenged claimed the new boundaries split too many counties and exceeds the population deviation.
A circuit judge agreed earlier this month, putting the case on the fast track to the Supreme Court.
The attorney for the legislature, Sheryl Snyder, claimed the General Assembly deserved wiggle room. "Is simply too inflexible a straight jacket to put on the General Assembly when they are engaged in the highly political issue of reapportioning the state,” said Snyder told the court during the hearing.
The attorney for the trio of GOP reps, Victor Maddox, claimed the new lines break a “clear and flexible rule.”
"It does not create the sort of standard less, ad hoc approach that the legislature would have this court adopt for no good reason,” said Maddox.
Stein’s attorney, Scott White, told the justices "this is really an easy case and there's no mystery."
Within a few hours, the high court had agreed, ruling the new boundaries unconstitutional and ordering the 2012 elections for all 100 House seats and half of the Senate’s 38 seats run in the old districts.
The court indicated it would issue a “full opinion” in the future.