Archive for Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Brownback tells federal judicial panel to toss legislative redistricting maps

May 29, 2012


— Gov. Sam Brownback on Tuesday told a three-judge panel to throw out all the state House and Senate redistricting plans that have been considered by the Legislature.

In a friend of the court brief, Brownback’s chief counsel Caleb Stegall said the legislative maps varied too greatly in population from ideal size districts.

“While this court has in front of it many plans considered at some point in the political process by the Kansas Legislature, none of those plans comes close to the stringent standard of equality required by the Constitution for court ordered plans,” Stegall argued. “Therefore, this court must eschew the easy route of simply approving one or the other of these plans.”

Brownback’s position was given to the federal panel that is hearing testimony in Kansas’ redistricting impasse.

The Legislature and Brownback failed to come to an agreement on redrawing political boundaries for congressional, legislative and State Board of Education districts during the 2012 session that ended earlier this month.

The matter is now before three federal judges: Kathryn Vratil, John Lungstrum and Mary Beck Briscoe, who is chief of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

A two-day hearing started Tuesday.

Every 10 years, legislators are charged with re-drawing district lines to account for changes and shifts in population. But political warfare erupted between conservative Republicans and a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats, with each side accusing the other of trying to gain the upper hand in getting their candidates elected.

Brownback, who is a conservative Republican, says he has a special interest in the case because he is “the state officer who would have been required to either approve or veto any reapportionment plan that successfully passed both the Kansas Senate and the Kansas House.”

To ensure that people are represented equally, courts demand that districts be as equal in size as possible.

The ideal size for a state Senate district is 70,896, and the ideal size for a state House district is 22,716.

Stegall said all the proposals considered by the Legislature had deviations from those populations ranging from 5.2 percent to 9.96 percent.

He said courts have allowed some leeway in districts drawn through the political process, but when courts draw the maps, those deviations are reduced to no more than two percent.

“In light of precedent set forth above, none of the state reapportionment plans considered by the Kansas Legislature satisfy the constitutional standards for equality that must be present in any court ordered plan. As such, this court must reject them all,” he said.

Stegall said there was one state Senate plan below two percent deviation that was on the Kansas legislative website but was never voted upon. That map was drawn up by a conservative legislator. Stegall didn’t endorse that plan but brought it to the panel’s attention.


Phillbert 6 years ago

What the Governor is saying is that rural Kansas needs to lose seats, as that's what the effect of his "suggestion" to the court would be.

And how nice of the Governor - who pledged that he wasn't going to endorse maps - to bring to the judges' attention a map drawn by one of his conservative friends. You know, just to point it out to them, not endorse it, but just mention it, without supporting it, of course.

Just like he never endorsed a map during the session...he just had his staff draw them up (with software from the Kansas Chamber, funneled through a front group) so he could show those maps to legislators. You know, just to show them, not to endorse them, but really more as a public service because he's just such a nice guy.

Budgets_Smudgets 6 years ago

I could not have said it any better.

John Hamm 6 years ago

Anti-Brownback good gosh man lighten up. If you read the article you see that the population deviances were greater than permissible on all plans except the one he "noted." He also notes that court plans are closer to 2% deviation from optimal. Cut the guy a break. If "rural" Kansas loses seats maybe, just maybe, it's because rural Kansas is losing population AND the redistricting is supposed to reflect where the population actually lives.

kansanjayhawk 6 years ago

The map the court comes up with is likely to be universally disliked.

John Kyle 6 years ago

hopefully they won't find the need to split Lawrence, though.

gccs14r 6 years ago

"All this so that Riley can be kept in the second district which is crazy. Riley needs to go to the 1st district."

Yep. 'course eventually the whole state will be in the 1st District, as national population trends cause Kansas to lose more seats.

hujiko 6 years ago

"If we're not happy, nobody can be happy."

rtwngr 6 years ago

That means it would probably be the most equitable.

Bob_Keeshan 6 years ago

A state senator told the judges this afternoon that the map submitted by Robyn Essex, "private citizen", was drawn by Peter Northcutt.

Mr. Northcutt is a member of Brownback's staff, and he drew the map using software provided to him by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.

How odd for a "private citizen" to file a lawsuit and attach to it a map drawn by the Governor.

JackMcKee 6 years ago

This state was so much better off when Brownback was touring African countries for whatever reason.

James Nelson 6 years ago

Brownback has proven to be the most insincere governor Kansas has ever had. There is no way whatsoever to keep Sam from dancing around in the spotlight while spouting off lie after lie. I've never seen anyone so eaten up with deceit. I think he actually believes if he can get his name in the national news a certain number of times during the next three years that he would be a shoo in for President in four years. I could almost pity the guy if he had not been doing his best to tear Kansas apart.

Curtis Lange 6 years ago

Looks like we found Bill Self's doppelgänger.

Curtis Lange 6 years ago

lol, that comment makes no sense when the picture of the three judges doesn't show up with the story above as it does on the front page.

livetwice 6 years ago

The three men in the front page photo are not the judges.

JackMcKee 6 years ago

What an insult to Bill Self. Those three are obviously lawyers. You can tell by their crooked smiles.

JackMcKee 6 years ago

the one in the middle looks like the dorky lawyer from Jurassic Park. The one the T-Rex ate off of the toilet like an hor dourves off a sterling silver serving tray

Richard Heckler 6 years ago

The Kansas Chamber of Commerce is RINO like Sam Brownback and his staff...... very narrow minded.

rtwngr 6 years ago

I've noticed that you tend to label everyone that disagrees with you the same.

Richard Heckler 6 years ago

The legislature should remain convened until Sam Brownback leaves Topeka,Kansas. He cannot be trusted to represent the state.

His personal agenda is what should be investigated. Brownback was not elected to promote his personal narrow views.

rtwngr 6 years ago

He was clear about his intentions when he ran for election. He was elected to institute his ideas into how the state should be run. He has done nothing that would call for a waste of resources into some sham investigation merely because you disagree with him politically.

jafs 6 years ago

And yet he lied, claiming he would protect education and social service funding, and then cut them instead.

If he was so clear, why are many who voted for him upset with what he's doing?

I agree that people should have known what he would do, regardless of his campaign promises, but apparently many believed him instead.

JackMcKee 6 years ago

Obama is quite a bit more popular in Kansas than Sammy the Shammy. Pastries for thought.

yourworstnightmare 6 years ago

Actually, I agree with rtwngr here.

Brownback made no secrets of his intentions. His claims of protecting education and social services were clearly lies, and anyone with half a brain realized that you could not cut taxes and cut spending the way Brownback wanted without harming education and social services.

Most people who voted for Brownback were either too ignorant to realize these lies or actually wanted to see these things cut.

Elections matter, and Kansas chose Brownback as their governor.

It is my opinion that these tax cuts wil bankruupt the state, leading to massive cuts to education, social services, and maybe even roads and transportation.

Kansas will be living with these decisions for decades if not for the foreseeable future.

jafs 6 years ago

Only if you think that lying isn't making a secret of one's intentions, which it clearly is.

I agree that nobody should have believed him, but clearly many did, and are now upset with his actions, which belies the claim that he was elected to do what he's doing.

JackMcKee 6 years ago

and that was before the little maneuver he pulled on the legislature to pass the tax bill. His next poll might have him in the teens.

Patricia Davis 6 years ago

Yes, indeedy. If we Dems and those who are moderate Republicans don't get pissed off enough to get off our butts and do something, we'll be living in Brownbackistan for the rest of our lives.

somedude20 6 years ago

Much like the bite of a brown recluse, the hand of the Brownback can be just as deadly and will take man many years to recover from this Brownback Necrotizing Fasciitis

lucky_guy 6 years ago

If the KS Legislature is so partisan and messed up that it can't do redistricting without judicial help them maybe we should just disband it and let any set of 3 random people decide everything. Faster, quicker and cheaper than what we have now. We could have a qualifying exam and only people with IQ's of 70 would be put in a pool and their names drawn and they would serve for 1 term. There you go everything is solved.

yourworstnightmare 6 years ago

Not a bad idea. But we already have a legislature consisting of IQ around 70.

Might we shoot for 100? 120? 140?

JackMcKee 6 years ago

an IQ of 70 would be a dramatic improvement. Let's start slow, so to speak.

verity 6 years ago

Or we could just let a non-partisan computer decide everything.

Shane Garrett 6 years ago

Well, you all know Sam has a plan. And I once heard that a few eggs must be broken to make an omelet. I am sure Sammy has the same idea. What else would you expect from a career politician?

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