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5:11 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

MO Supreme Court wants map issue to go through lower courts

The Missouri Supreme Court is declining to weigh in on the constitutionality of new state House districts — at least for now.

The high court had been asked in a lawsuit to block a new map for the 163-member House from being used in this year's elections. The plaintiffs contend the new maps violate requirements that districts have similar populations and be contiguous and compact. They asked the Supreme Court to consider the case without having it argued first in a trial court. The Supreme Court declined today, saying the case involved disputed issues of fact. The order allows the legal challenge to be filed in a state trial court and — if that occurs — instructs a judge to decide quickly. Candidates start filing for office Feb. 28.

Meantime, A special committee of the Missouri House will study whether changes should be made to the state's judiciary. Republican Rep. Jason Smith, of Salem, has been named chairman of the House Special Standing Committee on Judicial Reform. Smith says the panel will look at whether to change the boundaries for Missouri's judicial circuits, which he says have not been reorganized in more than 40 years. Smith says lawmakers may examine ways to make the circuits more compact so that workloads are more balanced. The legislative effort comes as some lawmakers have expressed frustration about the way in which a special judicial panel redrew the boundaries for state House and Senate districts in response to the 2010 census.