Archive for Monday, May 21, 2012

Redistricting panel rejects arguments from Kobach, allows more intervenors

May 21, 2012


A panel of three federal judges Monday rejected arguments from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and allowed a host of plaintiffs into a lawsuit over the Legislature's failure to redraw legislative and congressional political boundaries.

The outcome of the lawsuit could have a big impact on Lawrence, which has been at the center of some of the redistricting disputes in the Legislature.

Kobach wanted to limit those allowed to intervene in the case, voicing concerns that accepting more plaintiffs might prolong the case and prevent him and other election officials from making deadlines in the run up to the Aug. 7 primaries. He said his most immediate concern was getting ballots mailed to military personnel deployed overseas.

But U.S. District Court judges — Kathryn Vratil, Mary Beck Briscoe and John Lungstrum — pushed back hard, saying that while they understood the urgency of the situation, they didn't want to be rushed and they wanted to hear input from various sources.

"I'm really troubled by this line of argument," said Vratil, the presiding judge of the panel. "I think the people of Kansas deserve better," than to have redistricting "ramrodded," she said. She also said to Kobach, "It seems like you are trying to restrict the information that's coming to us ."

Kobach said many of the people seeking plaintiff status had preferred district boundaries based on politics, but the judges said they at least wanted to hear their opinions.

At one point, Kobach said he was concerned that if more plaintiffs were involved, then attorneys might start seeking fees from the state in the case.

Lungstrum shot back, "That is a very weak argument. That is truly the tail wagging the dog." He said if awarding attorney fees was appropriate, the judges will grant them, and if not, they won't.

Kobach also brought up the death of state Rep. Bob Bethell, R-Alden, who died in a car wreck just hours after the end of the legislative session on Sunday. Kobach said without a quick resolution of district boundaries, officials in Bethell's district will have to meet a couple of times to pick a replacement. Lungstrum said that as a former county political official, he didn't think that would be a problem.

Greg Musil, one of several attorneys representing different groups of voters, argued for intervenor status, telling the judges, "This is historic, and it (the decision on district boundaries) will last for 10 years. It's more important to get it right than to get it fast."

After hearing arguments for an hour, the judges recessed for 15 minutes and returned, saying they were unanimous in allowing at least 13 individuals who had filed for intervenor status to be plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Testimony in the case is expected to take at least two days, May 29-30. Further proceedings may occur June 4-6.

Among those allowed to participate in the case are U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Overland Park, whose 3rd congressional district includes eastern Douglas County; state Sen. Tim Owens, R-Overland Park, who was chair of the Senate redistricting committee; and House Minority Leader Paul Davis, of Lawrence, who was the ranking Democrat on the House redistricting committee.

Legislators adjourned Sunday but were unable to agree on new district lines as conservative and moderate Republicans were locked in a bitter political battle.

In congressional redistricting, the state Senate had adopted a map that would have placed Lawrence wholly in the 2nd U.S. House District. Lawrence is currently divided between the 2nd and 3rd districts.

The House rejected that map and approved one dividing Lawrence between the 1st, which includes western Kansas and much of central Kansas, and 2nd districts. That plan was opposed by Lawrence legislators and U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, who represents the 1st. The proposal never gained traction in the Senate.

Conservative and moderate Republicans fought mostly over state Senate maps. The conservative House supported proposals that gave conservative Republicans a chance to take control of the Senate, while moderate Republicans and Democrats in the Senate formed a coalition to reject those efforts.

At least 15 attorneys were present at Monday's hearing, and several legislators, including state Rep. Greg Smith, R-Overland Park, who is challenging Owens in the GOP primary.

The three-judge panel indicated it would use the computer software that legislators used to devise maps, and would also work with legislative staff.

After the hearing, Kobach was asked if he thought the legal proceedings would delay the primary. "It's too early to tell," he said.


verity 6 years ago

Many thanks to those who are sticking up for what is right, instead of putting power and party above the people they are representing.

RiverCityConservative 6 years ago

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Steve Jacob 6 years ago

I still can't get over any state government willingly handing over redistricting to the courts. We only have four districts, how hard can it be?

thekansascitian 6 years ago

The fight is not of US congressional districts, its about Kansas Senate District 8. Sen. Owens is a coward afraid to let his constituents have a choice.

ProfessorSeamus 6 years ago

This is false. Senator Owens agreed to a compromise that allowed for his Republican challenger to run against him. It's just the conservative wing wanted even more concessions and no agreement could be reached.

Fossick 6 years ago

"We only have four districts, how hard can it be? "

We have 4 congressional districts, 7 BOE districts, 40 state senate districts, 105 state house districts. These things add up, especially when the guys (and gals) making the map have a vested interest in the 40 and the 105.

Fossick 6 years ago

Yep, my bad. I was thinking counties.

cowboy 6 years ago

Kobach gets exposed as the incompetent attorney that he is , priceless.

ksjayhawk74 6 years ago

I'm no fan of Kobach but I would never call him incompetent. From his wiki page...

"Kobach graduated from Washburn Rural High School in Topeka, Kansas in 1984. Four years later, he earned an A.B. (summa cum laude) in Government from Harvard University, graduating first in his class in the Government Department. Subsequently, the Court of St. James awarded him a Marshall Scholarship, which allowed him to earn M.A. and D.Phil. degrees in Politics from Oxford University (in 1990 and 1992, respectively). He then returned to the United States and attended the Yale Law School, where he earned his J.D. in 1995 and served as an editor on the Yale Law Journal. During this time, he published two books: The Referendum: Direct Democracy in Switzerland (Dartmouth, 1994), and Political Capital: The Motives, Tactics, and Goals of Politicized Businesses in South Africa (University Press of America, 1990)."

If he does something that doesn't seem smart, it's part of his game.

Geiiga 6 years ago

Nothing good ever came out of Washburn Rural.

tolawdjk 6 years ago

So what you are saying is that he is one of the intellectual elite?

verity 6 years ago

Harvard and Yale? And Oxford? Shouldn't that mean he's part of the far-left liberal intellectual effete elite? OMG, something here doesn't add up.

Crazy_Larry 6 years ago

Gee Dubya Bush went to Yale and Harvard.

Fossick 6 years ago

He actually is one of the intellectual elite. The dude is smart. Scary smart. In order to grok him, you may have to set aside your liberal-smart/conservative-dumb paradigm. Don't worry, it wont hurt much, even if that hurts your pride and makes you work harder. And it just might help your cause in the long run.

Fossick 6 years ago

It's not necessarily a failing - while IQ isn't perfect, it certainly measures ability. No one ever confused someone with an 80iq with another person with a 150. One obviously functions at a far higher level in a whole range of mental tasks.

Why do degeneracy and intelligence have to be exclusive? As CS Lewis noted, you don't make demons out of cows, but angels.

Fossick 6 years ago

"They gave me a hat," Mr. Kerry says. "I have the hat to this day," he declares, rising to pull it from his briefcase. "I have the hat."

Geiiga 6 years ago

Anyway, it's perfectly fair to call him incompetent, by the very direct measure of him being bad at his job. The fact that he's bad at his job on purpose does not obviate the fact that he's just a dreadful secretary of state.

Additionally, his education at Washburn Rural, Harvard and Yale seems not to have educated out his white supremacy. Which makes him not so much smart as an ambitious, hard-working dimwit.

kansanjayhawk 6 years ago

However, he is doing a great job...

cowboy 6 years ago

Making inane arguments and being chastized by a panel of judges does not demonstrate competence.

Matt Schwartz 6 years ago

Sec. of State of Kansas and side jobs in other states during the same period???shameless, but not incompetent.

JackMcKee 6 years ago

The only thing standing between Kansas and a complete takeover by the radical right wing of the GOP is three judges.

WilburM 6 years ago

Finally, three adults to clean up the mess created by the legislative adolescents (and the governor, and active co-conspirator).

thekansascitian 6 years ago

Standing up for what's right? Three adults that will clean up the mess?

I love how Journal World failed to report Chief Justice Vratil, heading the panel, is the ex-wife of Senator Vratil, Owens' friend and confidant in the Kansas Senate.

They also didn't mention that the sole reason Kansas doesn't have a map is because Sen Owens is trying to gerrymander out his competition. He could have easily gotten a map passed if he would have agreed to retroactively accept anyone who has already filed to run in a district who may be affected by new boundaries... but nope, Owens is more concerned with keeping his power than in giving voters a choice.

I don't care who you are, when one of the justices, the head justice no less, is close personal friends with one of the plaintiffs you have a conflict of interest. Worse, the plaintiff in question wasn't even part of the case and his motion of intervention failed to demonstrate how his interests were not adequately represented by existing plaintiff's claims and requested remedies.

Fossick 6 years ago

It just illustrates how incestuous actual power is (and has been) in Kansas. The Vratils are (were) Senate President and state judge. ex-Gov. Sebelius' husband Gary is a US magistrate judge. Steve Six (appointed AG by Sebelius) is the son of a retired Kansas Supreme Court judge. This kind of relationship can be found all over the place, but especially in the "moderate" camp of the GOP, if only because they tend to be those who have been around longest. Say what you like about the radical young turks of the Kansas GOP, but for the most part they are genuine insurgents. Up to this point they have not managed to develop the hand-washes-hand insider relationships of those whom they are retiring. Maybe they will, but for now, I can't but think breaking this Country Club control of Kansas power is a good thing.

gccs14r 6 years ago

"... I can't but think breaking this Country Club control of Kansas power is a good thing."

By taking a ridiculously conservative government and making it insanely conservative? Haven't they done enough damage already?

Fossick 6 years ago

Kansas has never been a ridiculously conservative government. It has been Republican since 1861 almost without interruption, but it has always been a progressive/populist kind of Republican that produced more Nancy Kassebaums than Phill Klines. It has seldom even been as conservative as your average rural Missouri Democrat.

Now we actually have some genuine insurgent Republicans who are not beholden to the old families (recall that Kassbaum's maiden name was Landon, and that Sebelius is the daughter of an Ohio governor), and they are fighting with the old guard. It may look like a fight over ideology, but don't be fooled, for the old guard has little or no ideology except "go along to get along." It's a fight about power, where one side seeks power because they are dedicated to ideas and the other seeks power because they are dedicated to power .

Ken Lassman 6 years ago

So you agree that it's just a bold grab for power, then, right? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, except that you have the ultraconservative ideology wrapped around the new boss. I see no improvement at all for the average Kansan with the new boss, since they are clearly as beholden and self serving as the established powers that be.

Fossick 6 years ago

"So you agree that it's just a bold grab for power, then, right?"

All elections are bold grabs for power.

ProfessorSeamus 6 years ago

Again, you are spreading false information. Senator Owens agreed to a map that would allow his challenger to run against him. The right wing wanted every disagreement decided in their favor, which is why we do not have a map.

gccs14r 6 years ago

The TPers will now claim that "activist judges" are thwarting the will of the people. The managing editor of the paper out in Liberal is saying that the moderate Republicans should switch parties, claiming that they're really Democrats. All that cow smell must be melting their brains out there.

Fossick 6 years ago

The moderate Republicans should switch parties, if only to provide a little competition. It does not help Kansas nor its government to be a one-party state. While I have little use for moderates of either stripe, I'll admit that I'd prefer a house and senate that were 55/45% one party or the other to the current 3-1 GOP. No party is at its best without someone able to take the reins of power should they screw up too badly.

tomatogrower 6 years ago

So you don't like moderates who work together to solve problems. You want them to fight it out, despite the consequences, including stupid gerrymandering maps that would have ended up in court anyway, even if they had done their job, instead of fear mongering with a faux fight against Sharia law and UN peace keeping troops coming to get your gas guzzling car.

Fossick 6 years ago

Big fan of Joe Lieberman, I take it?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

Lieberman is liberal on some issues, very conservative on others. I don't think that makes him a moderate.

tomatogrower 6 years ago

I'm a big fan of people like Kassebaum and Dole who were not the "my way or the highway" kind of people. They played well with others. These bullies have to be go. Let them move to Texas.

esteshawk 6 years ago

"Kobach said many of the people seeking plaintiff status had preferred district boundaries based on politics . . .". Pot, meet kettle.

Fossick 6 years ago

This is judge Kathryn Vratil, ex-wife of Senate President John Vratil, who has a pretty big dog in this fight? No conflict of interest there, I'm pretty sure.

pace 6 years ago

Either Sam needs new judges, Or Kobotch needs to actually do the job instead of doing the scams. Probably Sam will reform the judicial arm as soon as opportunity arises. He has wrecked so many state organizations, of course his master plan is in trouble with the courts.

ProfessorSeamus 6 years ago

Unfortunately for Sam, these are Federal judges and beyond his reach.

ProfessorSeamus 6 years ago

Unfortunately for Sam, these are Federal judges and beyond his reach.

pace 6 years ago

yes, I know, I was being snide about how Sam fixes things.

Fossick 6 years ago

Agreed - if I had an ex-wife, I'd be unhappy to see her deciding my political future or that of my friends. But the point is not that it's unfair to the side I prefer* but that is probably unfair to someone involved. Even though I would not lose a minute of sleep if John Vratil were captured by aliens and given the Cartman treatment, he still deserves a fair shake.

  • I actually don't prefer either side, I just want the map passed.

pace 6 years ago

I would prefer to have the lines drawn intelligently rather than pure gerrymandered. I am not in such a hurry that I want to cheat the voters.

verity 6 years ago

Yes, vertigo, I was thinking the same thing.

kansanjayhawk 6 years ago

As a conservative iam appalled that our legislators left town without completing their job. Turning this over to the courts is an abdication of their duty to redistrict the political subdivisions of the State. The governor should call them back to finish the job sit down in a room together and get this done.

Shelley Bock 6 years ago

While this is a laudable suggestion, Kansasjayhawk, I believe you were one who was enjoying the "give it to the mod-Republicans and Democrats" that created this impasse. You felt no need to compromise, no need to find a way to common ground where everyone would be dissatisfied, but the districts would be realigned. You were enthusiastic in your support of putting moderate Republicans in jeopardy.

Now, without being able to find a compromise of any sort, federal judges will take into consideration all plans and come up with a solution. Probably not a solution you would like, but one which all must live with into the future. So be it.

I won't be happy if Lawrence is once again divided between Congressional districts. I won't be happy if Senate districts favor rural areas over the urban scene. But, it is what will be. You often commented that "elections have consequences". So, does failing to find compromise and acting like a grown up. That's a political consequence to "having it my way or the highway." Now, the judges step in and make a decision.

Mike1949 6 years ago

Total agreement, thanks!

Kansas Jaybird is just a troll anyway. If you look over the comments from him/her (probably a him) they all are written just to get a rise out of people no matter what the subject is!

kansanjayhawk 6 years ago

Not a troll- a little judgmental are you not--it is really about the conversation.

verity 6 years ago

You said it loud and clear. Thanks.

tomatogrower 6 years ago

Well, kansasjayhawk, I agree with you on that point. I hope their constituents remember that they didn't do their job, and fire them.

Mike1949 6 years ago

("I'm really troubled by this line of argument," said Vratil, the presiding judge of the panel. "I think the people of Kansas deserve better," than to have redistricting "ramrodded," she said. She also said to Kobach, "It seems like you are trying to restrict the information that's coming to us .")

Boy, did she hit the nail on the head! Of course being the Republicans that are pushing for this, if the courts take too long, the Republican party has someone to blame for it's failure! That is what the Republican party wanted, someone to blame!!!!!

Jim Johnson 6 years ago

Seems funny how most on here are ready to accept legislating from the bench

Keith 6 years ago

Well we were prepared to suffer legislating from the legislature, but they couldn't get their tiny minded act together enough to pass anything, so here we are.

tomatogrower 6 years ago

And what are you doing to do about the stupid conservative tea party guys who kept coming up with ridiculous maps that would have ended up in court anyway? If you want the legislature to do their job, don't vote for radicals. They are unbending, and could care less about Kansas. They just want to get their radical agenda passed in toto. They don't about the consequences. Kansas got what they voted for, so they shouldn't complain about the courts taking over. Also, many of the laws they have passed will get challenged in court anyway, so conservatives are all into courts and spending big bucks on lawyers. I wonder how many of their campaign contributors are lawyers?

kansanjayhawk 6 years ago

It was moderate Republicans who lined their challengers out of their districts who were unbending and unwilling to compromise.

pace 6 years ago

No, incorrect. The use of the radicals to confuse the word compromise with the phrase "obey' just shows their lack of respect for education.

kansanjayhawk 6 years ago

It was moderate Republicans who lined their challengers out of their districts who were unbending and unwilling to compromise.

gccs14r 6 years ago

I'd rather redistricting be done by computer. Code each square mile by population and let the computer figure out comparative population density to determine urban, suburban, or rural, then create compact districts of regular polygons (respecting natural borders such as rivers) of populations of similar interest. No politics involved. It would take a few seconds to spit out a map and everyone could concentrate on other things.

jafs 6 years ago


Nobody will go for that, unfortunately - each side wants more power.

Sharon Nottingham 6 years ago

...while texting about the influx of voter fraud.

geekin_topekan 6 years ago

"prolong the case and prevent him and other election officials from making deadlines in the run up to the Aug. 7 primaries. He said his most immediate concern was getting ballots mailed to military personnel deployed overseas." ++++ Yet he somehow finds the time to hang in in Fremont, Ne. where they even call him the "city's attorney." How many military ballots could have been sent out while KKKobach was gallivanting around, working out-of-state? He could have been in Kansas, doing Kansas stuff, being how he was on Kansas payroll.

Fossick 6 years ago

"How many military ballots could have been sent out while KKKobach was gallivanting around, working out-of-state?"

None. You can't mail ballots until the districts are drawn.

yourworstnightmare 6 years ago

This is what happens when childish amateurism takes over the legislature and it fails to do its job.

Grump 6 years ago

I think the conservatives in the legislature have made a huge mistake (from their perspective) by pushing this into the federal courts. The three judges on the panel are all very independent minded, intelligent judges. They are not going to allow Kobach to put one over on them, as can already be seen by their rejection of his plea to not allow intervenors in. These three judge are not going to gerrymander the districts just to please O'Neal, Brownback, and Kobach.

verity 6 years ago

As far as I know, mental intelligence has no correlation with moral/ethical intelligence. In fact, the more clever a person is, the more ways they can think up to insidiously do evil. But sometimes it all backfires.

Kobach may have just gotten himself caught in his own web.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

Kobach's main motivation was to get his name in the headlines again, as it will be for however long this case continues. He probably isn't all that concerned with how they arrange the districts.

FloridaSunshine 6 years ago

tange...please see your inbox asap. Thanks!

verity 6 years ago

Damn, tange, you're playing with my head again. You know it annoys me when I have no idea what you're talking about.

Be sweet and write me poems that a plain-spoken person like me can understand.

I do like Bob---he taught me pretty much everything I know.

Fossick 6 years ago

Mama, that's where the fun is.

Jimo 6 years ago

Kobach seems intent on breaking Kline's record for the number of times his name and "judge" can be combined in a sentence with a verbal synonym for "rejected."

Fossick 6 years ago

Tomatogrower: I'm a big fan of people like Kassebaum and Dole who were not the "my way or the highway" kind of people.

So, big fan of Republican squishes but not of Dem ones. I know a lot of Republicans* who are a big fan of 'principled' Republicans and love Dem squishes as well. It goes along with being a tactically-thinking partisan, I guess.

I prefer liberal Dems to moderates just like I prefer conservative Republicans to moderates. When people believe in ideas, a creative person can find a way to work with them to get things done. When a person believes in nothing but his own power, all you can do is buy him off. That's why moderates give so many awards to each other.

The problem with the hard-right GOP in Kansas is not that they are any more bullies than the moderates - the moderates have bullied them for years. The problem is that they are not experienced enough at winning yet, and that they need some inter-party competition. Being the only game in town makes one careless, because there's no one breathing down your neck if you screw up. Inexperienced and careless is not a good combination.

  • some of my best friends are Republicans.

verity 6 years ago

Dare I ask what a squish is? I only know it as a verb.

Are you saying that moderates don't believe in ideas, but only power?

Fossick 6 years ago

"Dare I ask what a squish is?"

I can give an example, which might be better than a description. In 2007, the Senate voted cloture on W's Last Stand, the Immigration Bill that defined failure in his second term*. Rightwing News liveblogged it counting right up to the point where opponents got 40 votes:

11:12: It's hard to tell how we're doing with the way they're almost randomly calling out votes, but so far, so good.

11:14: Judd Gregg voted "yes". He didn't switch. Bingaman voted "no" though. That's a nice pick-up.

11:16: Webb went our way.

11:17: Burr voted no.

11:18: Nelson just went no. I think we got it.

11:19: I think we're over 40.

11:20: Cochran, Brownback, and Coleman all no.

11:23: Sherrod Brown and Mitch McConnell. No. We're going to win easy and now the squishes on this subject are breaking our way.

Note that Brownback at 11:20. Brownback had already voted yes, but once it became obvious that 40 votes "no" were there to deny cloture, he switched his vote to be on the winning side. He did not believe in the issue, at least once it turned out to be unpopular, earning him a very fitting moniker, Senator Switchback:

He then issued at least two contradictory and roundly mocked explanations for why he changed his vote to no as soon as it became clear that the no side would carry.

Kassebaum was the same way when it came to Robert Bork in '88. She told me that she was leaning toward him, then voted against him, then admitted publicly that had it come down to her vote, she would have supported him. No courage, no conviction.

These people make a show of being moderate,** but what it usually comes down to is supporting the trendy, popular, winning side. And yes, I am saying they are not dedicated to ideas that they will sacrifice anything for; most of them are there because they like to have "Hon." in front of their name and like to be announced at the head table.

Funny thing about all these Democrats who love Dole and Kassebaum. Didn't vote for them, I'm sure, but love 'em just the same...

  • At least until TARP, IMO. ** Brownback is a genuine modern conservative, but he can still be flipped when his stand turns out to hurt him politically.

Fossick 6 years ago

A squish is someone who is willing to vote any way so long as it results in popularity, rewards, kudos, or favorable mentions in the New York Times. John McCain is a squish, Dennis Kucinich is not. Clear?

Fossick 6 years ago

Troubled Asset Relief Program - an $850 billion boondoggle where the Chairman of the Fed and the Secretary Treasury told Congress that if they did not fork over almost a trillion to buy troubled securities, the world would end. Congress did, and Bernanke and Paulsen spent the money on stuff that was a lot more fun. It's pretty much the low point of modern representative democracy. You should have been there.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

TARP had the desired result. It stimulated the economy. Only problem is that it only stimulated one part of an increasingly bifurcated economy-- one extremely stratified between the haves, and the have nots.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

"There is absolutely nothing insulting for a wonderful University with an outstanding agricultural emphasis to be associated with the western 2/3rd of the state which has a strong emphasis on agribusiness."

Western Kansans tend to identify with K-State much more than with KU, anyway. Putting it in the first district would just strengthen the ties between the region and the university they consider "theirs."

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