On September 19, the Kentucky Supreme Court will become the latest state high court to consider the question of whether legal challenges to gerrymandered voting maps are justiciable under its state constitution.
The U.S. Supreme Court controversially ruled in 2019 that partisan gerrymandering claims were non-justiciable “political questions” under the federal constitution, but said “our conclusion [does not] condemn complaints about districting to echo into a void… State statutes and state constitutions can provide standards and guidance for state courts to apply.”
So far, voters have had better luck in state courts. Since 2018, state trial or appellate courts in eight states have ruled that gerrymandering challenges are actionable under various state constitutional provisions, though courts in North Carolina have since reversed course. Only the Kansas Supreme Court, now joined by North Carolina’s high court, have followed the U.S. Supreme Court in holding gerrymandering claims to be non-justiciable. (State supreme courts in New Hampshire and Utah also are currently considering the question of justiciability.)
The case before the Kentucky Supreme Court, Graham v. Adams, arises from the contentious redrawing of the state’s legislative and congressional maps after the 2020 census.