The Missouri Supreme Court on Friday upheld the state’s new congressional and state legislative maps. The ruling ended a prolonged waiting period that left candidates in limbo about the shape of their districts.
A divided court ruled that the congressional map the General Assembly passed meets a constitutional requirement for “compactness” because “the standard does not require absolute precision in compactness.”
The ruling came nearly two months after the filing deadline for congressional candidates. Lawyers in the case expected a decision weeks ago.
Redistricting was complicated by the loss of one seat following the 2010 census because the state grew more slowly than other states. Missouri had nine representatives during the last decade, but it will have eight the next 10 years.
In a second opinion Friday, the court also upheld a new map for the 163 districts of the Missouri House.
On the congressional map, Judge William Ray Price objected to the shape of the 5th District, which includes much of Kansas City and is now held by Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver. In the new map, the district extends eastward along Intestate 70 to also include rural Lafayette, Ray and Saline counties. The new district, some say, resembles a teardrop or dead lizard.
Price said the district is not compact, is “bizarrely shaped” and divides communities.
“The teardrop also tears apart the cities of Blue Springs, Independence, Lee’s Summit and Oak Grove, placing pieces of each community” in both the 5th and 6th districts, Price wrote. The 6th covers northern Missouri but dips into Jackson County.