-Government & Politics - WKMS
4:22 pm
Tue February 7, 2012

Franklin Circuit Judge Finds Redistricting Maps Unconstitutional

A Franklin Circuit Court judge has thrown out new legislative district maps, saying they violate the basic principles of the Kentucky Constitution.

Judge Phillip Shepherd’s ruling is based on the so-called “five percent rule.” It says new districts must be within five percent of their ideal size. Shepherd added that the maps of both the House and Senate districts divided too many counties.

Shepherd also extended the deadline for candidates to file to run for the General Assembly until Friday. Unless the ruling is overturned or new districts are drafted, candidates will run in the current districts.

House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover was one of the main parties challenging the maps. He says he’s happy with Shepherd’s ruling.

“Well we’re obviously very pleased with the judge’s decision,” Hoover said. “He agreed with the argument that we’ve made now from day one, that the House plan divided two many counties and it was above the population variance and he agreed with that. He found it was a violation of Section 33 of the Constitution, that’s the argument that we’ve made from day one.”

House Speaker Greg Stumbo declined immediate comment on the ruling, saying he had not seen it.

Shepherd did not rule on whether the Senate’s decision to move Senator Kathy Stein’s district was constitutional…leaving it open to further challenge. Stein says she’s resigned to not running this year.

“I have resigned myself to the fact that I’m probably not going to be able to run in November,” Stein says. “And you know that’s fine. But if we can get what we argued for the 113,000 people in Fayette County so that they will be able to vote for someone who lives in the district then we will have accomplished what need to be accomplished.”

Lawmakers are likely to appeal Shepherd’s ruling to the state Supreme Court.