The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge to Kansas' Republican-drawn congressional map that some voters of the state say allows for racial gerrymandering.
In a brief, unsigned order, the justices rejected an appeal brought by a group of Kansas voters, who claimed that the wrong legal standard was used when a lower court upheld the map last year.
According to The Hill, a state trial court had initially blocked the map over concerns of partisan gerrymandering and diluting the minority vote. The map split Wyandotte County – home to Kansas City — into two congressional districts for the first time in several decades.
The challengers argued that the move deprived minority voters of the ability to elect their preferred candidate, while the state maintained the changes were needed to address population growth.
The Kansas Supreme Court overturned the trial court's decision and upheld the map, saying the challengers failed to show that there were enough affected minority voters to form their own majority-minority district.
Represented by the ACLU, the ACLU of Kansas and the Campaign Legal Center, the group of voters said in court papers that the Kansas Supreme Court "held that intentional racial discrimination in redistricting is unconstitutional only if it prevents the formation of a majority-minority district."
"Under this conception of the Fourteenth Amendment, where minority voters are fewer in number or more dispersed, states have carte blanche to intentionally discriminate against them in drawing districts — even if the legislature announced that it acted specifically to disadvantage minority voters," the challengers wrote in their brief. "This intolerable rule would apply across most of the country, given the relatively small number of areas with sufficiently numerous and concentrated minority populations."
Kansas had requested that the U.S. Supreme Court decline to hear the case, claiming the court lacked jurisdiction and that the case was rightly decided by the state court, according to CNN.
Describing the case as a "creature of state law," the Republican-led state asserted the Supreme Court did not have the authority to hear a challenge.
Even if the high court did, Kansas maintained the map was lawful and did not intentionally discriminate.
"Petitioners' argument is premised on the theory that this case involves intentional minority vote dilution," the state wrote. "But it is not plausible that the Kansas Legislature enacted SB 355 with a racially discriminatory purpose. Petitioners' claims would therefore fail regardless of the answer to the question presented."
According to CNN, the high court's decision to not hear the case means that the newly redrawn map will remain in effect.
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