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Kansas into 'uncharted waters' with remap lawsuit

Associated Press
John Hanna
Wednesday, June 27, 2012

An Associated Press story on Kansas lawmakers' failure to redraw the state's political boundaries - forcing federal judges to intervene - featured Richard Levy, professor of law.

Hanna wrote:

Richard Levy, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Kansas, said the court's jurisdiction to draw lines derives from constitutional requirements for equal political representation.

He also listed four "conventional" factors considered by courts, starting with compactness, or drawing districts simple in shape and putting the most population in the smallest area possible. The other factors are following natural boundaries, such as rivers; preserving existing political boundaries by not splitting cities or counties when possible; and preserving "communities of interest," for example, by keeping urban areas with other urban areas.

For legislators, protecting incumbents has been an important issue. Levy said it's probably not a consideration for the court.

"But, on the other hand, there will be a sense that there is a value to continuity," Levy said. "I don't think the judges would want to necessarily protect incumbents, but generally the court wants to make the least amount of changes necessary."

Note: This story is no longer available online.