JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The future of Missouri’s state Senate districts will now be decided by the courts, as the upper chamber’s bipartisan citizens commission failed to agree on a proposed map before the deadline.
The Missouri Supreme Court appointed a six-judge panel on Jan. 11 to remap the state’s legislative districts if either of the independent bipartisan citizens commissions for the House and Senate failed to come to an agreement by Jan. 23.
While the House Independent Bipartisan Citizens Commission was able to agree on a proposed House map before the deadline, the Senate commission failed to do so – leaving the upper chamber’s new map in the court’s hands.
If the judicial commission does not agree on a map that meets all constitutional requirements, a second citizens commission would be chosen to resolve the issue.
Here’s a look into the six appellate court judges appointed to the Judicial Redistricting Commission:
Thomas N. Chapman was appointed to the Western District Court of Appeals by Republican Gov. Mike Parson in 2018 after serving eight years as a circuit judge for the 43rd Judicial Circuit. Noteworthy rulings include presiding over a 2015 case over whether a University of Missouri rule prohibiting weapons on campus, except for campus police, conflicted with a Missouri law that said state employees cannot be prohibited from having a gun on state property.
The plaintiff, professor Royce Barondes, argued that the university’s rule conflicted with his legal right to keep a firearm in his car as granted by state law, and the court agreed. Chapman, along with Judges Mark Pfeiffer and W. Douglas Thomson, issued a unanimous decision that the rule conflicted with state law and that Bardones, and other state employees, were allowed to have their firearms on state property as long as they are in a locked vehicle and cannot be seen.
Michael Gardner was appointed to the Eastern District Court of Appeals by Parson in February 2020 after serving six years as a circuit judge for the 32nd Judicial Circuit.
Gary Lynch was appointed to the Southern District Court of Appeals by Republican Gov. Matt Blunt in January 2006 after serving three years as an associate circuit judge of the 30th Judicial Circuit.
Cynthia Martin was appointed to the Western District Court of Appeals in October 2009 by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, despite not having any judicial experience.
Angela Quigless was appointed to the Eastern District Court of Appeals in April 2012 by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon after serving as a circuit judge for the 22nd Judicial Circuit since 2003.
Mary Sheffield was appointed to the Southern District Court of Appeals in December 2012 by Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon after serving as a circuit judge for the 25th Judicial Circuit from 2004 to 2012.
The Missouri Constitution says districts should be as equal as possible in population, allowing certain reservations to avoid splitting counties or cities into separate districts.
The Judicial Redistricting Commission has set a Feb. 17 hearing in Jefferson City, when members of the public are allowed to offer comments, suggestions and ideas to the panel. There also is a new website offering a chance to provide written comments regarding redistricting for those who are unable to attend the commission’s public hearing.