The Richmond Register

Local News

August 19, 2013

Federal court ruling complicates redistricting process

(Continued)

FRANKFORT —

Whites filed a motion Saturday arguing the emergency clause requires 51 votes in the House to pass the bill — 11 more than the minimum necessary for passage of ordinary legislation — and that could mean the difference between passage or failure of the bill.

Then late Monday, Whites filed a second motion, asking the court to amend its Friday order to allow the 2002 district lines to be used if any special elections become necessary before 2014.

The judges held an unusual impromptu teleconference on the motion Monday to allow attorneys for all sides to argue the motions.

Whites argued during that teleconference that without the requested amendment there now are no legislative district lines under which to have a special election. Such elections, he said, are to fill unexpired terms of those elected by the people living in the previous map’s district, and the Friday order eliminates those districts.

If the special election were held under the new lines, the winner would be elected by voters who weren’t eligible to vote for the representative being replaced. It might even be possible, Whites said, for some districts to have two representatives while another had none.

Chris Wiest, attorney for the northern Kentucky plaintiffs, and William Sharp, representing the ACLU, argued against the motion, saying a previous Kentucky Supreme Court provided for such an eventuality — a statewide, at-large election. Presumably, that might mean votes in 120 counties for one legislative district seat, although that wasn’t immediately clear Monday. They also asked for time to file briefs in response to the two motions.

Van Tatenhove suggested if a special election became necessary, the legislature might petition the court, but Whites objected saying that would be a clear constitutional violation of the separation of powers.

After conferring among themselves, the judges issued the ruling around 7 p.m. Monday, giving plaintiffs 24 hours to file briefs but did not rule on the motions themselves.

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