Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate ruled on Thursday that Kentucky Republicans did not violate the constitution when they drew new congressional and state boundaries earlier this year. Democrats sued, claiming redistricting was unfair and involved partisan gerrymandering. Judge Wingate did not disagree but stated such a move does not violate the Kentucky Constitution.
The legislature redraws boundaries once every 10 years, following each U.S. decennial census. This year, Republican supermajorities in the House and Senate controlled the plan. While Governor Andy Beshear vetoed the Kentucky House of Representatives and U.S. congressional maps ‒ House Bill 2 and Senate Bill 3 ‒ the legislature overrode both vetoes.
Republicans gained seats in the Kentucky House of Representatives on Tuesday after five Democratic incumbents lost in their newly drawn districts.
House Speaker David Osborne (R-Prospect) released a statement calling the judge’s ruling confirmation that the new maps are legal and constitutional. “These plans are the product of a committed effort to meet all considerations while maximizing every community’s influence to the greatest extent possible. Despite that commitment and the involvement of countless stakeholders in an extremely thorough process, there were those who chose to play politics with the situation and falsely claim the plans were unconstitutional.” He went on to add, “It is the first time in four decades that a plan is declared legal and constitutional and the first in more than a century to break the cycle of partisan-driven gerrymandering.”
Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) noted that the legislature based the maps on U.S. Census data. “This was the first time in a century that Republicans were in charge of redistricting, and our caucus chose to include the minority party in the process,” he said. “It’s important to note the Senate maps were never challenged. Our maps were drafted and submitted in a timely and fair manner, unlike previous redistricting actions led by the Democrats.”
During his weekly Thursday afternoon news conference, Governor Beshear said he supported shifting redistricting to an outside, nonpartisan commission.