(Updates with excerpt of ruling in fourth paragraph.)
Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) -- The Missouri Legislature’s new federal congressional district map passes legal requirements for compactness of those territories, a state court judge ruled.
Judge Daniel R. Green in Jefferson City today rejected a two-pronged challenge to the Legislature’s new map, which was created after 2010 U.S. Census data showed the state’s relatively slow population growth required the elimination of one of its nine districts.
Missouri’s General Assembly passed the new map in May, overriding Governor Jay Nixon’s veto.
“This court declines plaintiffs’ invitation to engage in a never-ending game of one-upmanship in a constant search for the ultimate map,” Green said, finding that the legislators’ map met legal requirements for contiguousness of area and equal distribution of population.
The state’s Supreme Court last month overturned a prior ruling on compactness by Green, returning the case to him with instructions to hold an evidentiary hearing.
“While we have received a favorable ruling from the Circuit Court, we recognize that this is just the latest step in the process and the issue will likely return to the Missouri Supreme Court in the coming days for a final decision.” Attorney General Chris Koster said in a press statement announcing the trial court decision.
St. Louis attorney Gerry Greiman, who represented one set of plaintiffs, said in a phone interview tonight that Koster is correct, that his clients will appeal Green’s ruling.
Because the case involves a constitutional issue, Greiman said, that challenge will skip Missouri’s intermediate-level appellate court and go directly to the state’s Supreme Court, where he will seek an expedited review.
“We think it’s clear legal error,” he said of the judge’s decision today. The Supreme Court had instructed Green to determine if the new maps were “as compact as they may be,” the attorney said, asserting that Green’s decision gave no effect to the high court’s standard.
The cases are Pearson v. Koster, 11AC-CC00624, and McClatchey v. Carnahan, 11AC-CC00752, Cole County, Missouri, Circuit Court (Jefferson City).
--Editors: Peter Blumberg, Glenn Holdcraft
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