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Missouri Supreme Court upholds state Senate map, rejecting redistricting suit

The Missouri Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld voting districts drawn for the state Senate, rejecting a legal challenge that said mapmakers should have focused more on keeping communities intact.

The high court’s 5-2 ruling means districts first used in the 2022 election will remain in place for both this year and subsequent elections.

The case was one of about a dozen remaining in the country challenging the boundaries of state legislatures and Congresses after the 2020 Census.

Missouri High Court hears arguments in Senate redistricting case

Many of these battles pit Democrats and Republicans against each other as each party tries to shape districts in its favor, but the Missouri case has split the party into two camps.

Attorney Chuck Hatfield speaks with Missouri Assistant Attorney General Maria Lanahan at the Missouri Supreme Court on Thursday, February 1, 2024 in Jefferson City, Missouri. (AP Photo/David A. Reeve)

The Republican Senate committee upheld the 2022 Senate maps established by a panel of appeals court judges, while the Republican House committee sided with Democratic voters who are suing to overturn the districts.

The lawsuit alleges that the mapmakers should not have divided Buchanan County in western Missouri or Hazelwood, a suburb of St. Louis, into multiple districts.

At issue are amendments to zoning standards approved by voters in the 2020 constitutional amendment. The Supreme Court said the trial judge correctly held that the Constitution prioritized “compact” districts over maintaining entire communities within districts.

The majority opinion was written by Justice Kelly Broniek, one of Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s new appointees to the court.

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In a dissenting opinion, Judge W. Brent Powell said the map included more than 1 percent population deviation in the district that includes Buchanan County and Hazelwood, while failing to keep communities intact. Therefore, he said he would cancel the map. Judge Paul Wilson was also present.

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