Fighting Extreme Partisan Gerrymandering in Kentucky (Graham v. Adams)
At a Glance
Campaign Legal Center is urging the Kentucky Supreme Court to rule that extreme partisan gerrymandering violates the Kentucky Constitution.Back to top
About this Case
In 2022, a group of Kentucky voters filed a lawsuit arguing that the state House and congressional maps passed by the legislature are unlawful partisan gerrymanders in violation of multiple provisions of the Kentucky Constitution. The plaintiffs alleged that the state maps “crack” and “pack” voters based on partisanship to ensure control over elections for the decade. The trial court agreed, concluding that the evidence “clearly” demonstrated that the maps were extreme and durable partisan gerrymanders. But the trial court held that no provision of the Kentucky Constitution prevents such gerrymandering. The plaintiffs appealed.
CLC’s Amicus Brief
CLC submitted a friend-of-the-court amicus brief that explains why the Kentucky Supreme Court has the authority and the obligation to uphold Kentuckians’ constitutional rights and review the plaintiffs’ partisan gerrymandering claims.
Among other provisions, the Kentucky Constitution contains a Free Elections Clause, which provides a manageable standard to evaluate whether a challenged redistricting map constitutes an impermissible partisan gerrymander. This constitutional guarantee that “[a]ll elections shall be free and equal” is undermined when the political process has continuously failed Kentucky’s voters and allowed legislators elected from gerrymandered districts to insulate themselves from the electorate. There is firm historical grounding for applying Kentucky’s Free Elections Clause to prohibit excessive partisanship in the redistricting process.
The problem of extreme partisan gerrymandering is only getting worse. The combination of an increasingly polarized electorate and the sophisticated tools that propel today’s mapmaking enables gerrymanderers to dilute the voting strength of a disfavored group of voters with precision, entrench favored incumbents, and often secure preferred electoral outcomes for a decade. Courts are critical to correct this democratic dysfunction. The state judiciary is the only institution with both the constitutional authority to stop gerrymandering and the lack of political incentive to perpetuate it.
The Kentucky Supreme Court can and should step in to block these extreme partisan gerrymanders and their distorting effects on democracy.