Let elected official decide

One of the phrases repeated during the legislature’s congressional redistricting process has been “It’s better to have elected representatives do this than to trust it to unelected judges.”

There are those who have their doubts that the elected representatives have done much more than prove that the majority does rule, especially if it’s a big enough majority and it does a few favors for a enough members of the minority to make sure a governor’s veto can be overridden.

Senator Ryan McKenna of Crystal City supported opposed the override. His county has been split into three congressional districts, one of whom lives half a state away at the Lake of the Ozarks and a second one who claims Cape Girardeau as her home. McKenna is a Democrat. Bill Stouffer is a Republican and although he had voiced the elected officials vs. the courts sentiment during the original debate, he voted to uphold the veto. Stouffer lives in Saline County, one of the three rural counties that now find themselves represented by Kansas City Congressman and former Kansas City Mayor Emanuel Cleaver. The district is so awkwardly drawn that we have likened it to a dead lizard lying on its back, feet in the air.

Stouffer has said people in his district are raising money for a lawsuit challenging the new district lines. One of those who earlier had expressed distaste for the new fifth district is a Republican who has lost to Cleaver three times.

Maybe those unelected judges will get a chance to draw new lines after all. Some incumbent members of congress might be uncomfortable with that thought. They’ve spent the last few months lobbying the elected legislators to draw districts favorable to them. Those unelected judges who work in a system our political science textbooks tell us is a non-partisan arbiter of laws often created and passed in a partisan system are likely not to care too much for lobbying by incumbent members of congress.

When citizens think their elected officials have not, in fact, done a fair job, they have the power to turn to the courts. The courts sometimes have agreed with the citizens that their elected representatives have done a poor job. Sometimes they don’t get involved.

But that’s tomorrow’s news. To paraphrase the folks at FOX News: You decide. We’ll report.

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