FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Once again, Kentucky's courts find themselves at the center of the state's redistricting drama. And it's happening with less than 100 days until Kentucky's primary election.
The Kentucky Democratic Party is part of a lawsuit claiming the Kentucky House map and the Kentucky Congressional map violate the state Constitution.
The lawsuit claims the maps involve "extreme partisan gerrymandering" which violates the Kentucky Constitution "by arbitrarily denying the citizens of the Commonwealth the rights to a free and equal election, free expression, and free association."
The suit also challenges "excessively and unnecessarily splitting counties."
However, GOP leaders - who made the maps - stand by their work. House Speaker David Osborne told reporters that he believes their map will hold up in court.
“I’m very, very confident that the map will withstand any challenge," said Osborne in January.
On Thursday, the Franklin Circuit Court took the case up. Judge Thomas Wingate was asked to rule on an injunction motion. His decision will either block Kentucky's new maps or allow them in the upcoming primary election.
"This map is more extreme partisan gerrymander than 99% of all plans that have ever been adopted in the United States," said Michael Abate, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs.
Abate told reporters that Republican lawmakers are making it nearly impossible for Democrats to win outside of Louisville, Lexington, and parts of Franklin County.
"They're going for the kill," added Abate. "They're abusing their power over redistricting to try to eliminate the political opposition."
The defendants' lawyers argued the maps are fair. They told the judge it is too late to make changes at this point.
"There's not enough time to run an election using any other maps," said Associate Attorney General Victor Maddox.
"That can't be accomplished in time to have a May 17th primary," Maddox added.
Kentucky's chief elections official, Secretary of State Michael Adams, says his priority "is a smooth election." He worries about chaos if the maps are blocked.
" Let the candidates go out there, make their case, and let the voters vote," said Adams. "I'm really concerned about the democratic party's lawsuit potentially destabilizing this election - by throwing it into chaos."
Abate argues that there is the ability to move the primary. He argues it's "improper" to hold an election with "intentionally unconstitutional" maps.
Despite what the Franklin Circuit Judge rules, the case is expected to be taken to the Kentucky Supreme Court.