Gov. Andy Beshear speaks on election night, Nov. 7, 2023, at Old Forrester’s Paristown Hall in Louisville. (Kentucky Lantern photo by Austin Anthony)
After the Kentucky Supreme Court affirmed redrawn congressional and legislative districts Thursday morning, Gov. Andy Beshear said a constitutional amendment should be pursued but noted it would be “challenging” to pass through the General Assembly.
Beshear, a Democrat, said in his weekly press conference Thursday afternoon that he had not read the entire 78-page opinion in full, but found the ruling “concerning” if the court ruled “that it’s OK to gerrymander on purely partisan intentions.”
“That’s not the way that the government should operate and if it takes a constitutional amendment, I think we should pursue one,” the governor added.
Democrats sued after the maps were approved by the Republican-controlled General Assembly last year. Beshear vetoed the maps.
The Supreme Court affirmed a decision out of Franklin County Circuit Court that the maps, which will stay in place, were a result of “partisan gerrymanders” but did not find them unconstitutional. Republicans in Frankfort quickly applauded the ruling.
Beshear, who recently won reelection to a second term, referenced a line in the Court’s opinion which argues that voters unhappy with the maps can find remedies “in a constitutional amendment or expulsion of the perpetrators at the polls.” The governor, who is not a party in the lawsuit, argued districts were “redrawn to make it harder to vote people out.”
“The ruling is what it is, and we’ll have to move forward,” Beshear said. “But we have got to get to a point where redistricting is about the people and not the politics, and trying to find a vehicle to do that.”
The governor said “getting a fair redistricting constitutional amendment through would probably be really challenging,” because the General Assembly created the maps and the Supreme Court upheld them. However, Beshear added “that doesn’t mean that you don’t continue to try.”
Beshear said Kentucky should have a non-partisan commission to oversee redistricting like some other states have, but such a way would need a constitutional amendment in Kentucky — which is put forth by the legislature.
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