When it said Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green had to take evidence in two cases challenging the constitutionality of Missouri's newest congressional district lines, the state Supreme Court also said he had to issue his decision by Friday.
But a St. Louis lawyer warned him Thursday morning: "The key to this case lies in ... the U.S. Constitution's ... federal Supremacy Clause."
Attorney Richard E. Schwartz, who represents U.S. Rep. William "Lacy" Clay, pointed to the provision that says "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States ... shall be the supreme Law of the Land."
Schwartz told Green the federal law "overrides any judgments that might be entered on the basis of purely Missouri law."
Missouri's Constitution requires the General Assembly to draw new congressional district boundaries, after the U.S. Census Bureau releases its official population totals following the once-every-decade national head-count.
But that work was complicated last year, after Missouri lost one congressional district.
Lawmakers last April adopted a map that Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed, and the Legislature overrode that veto in May.
Two lawsuits, one filed last September, the other in November, ultimately challenged the map, based on the Missouri Constitution's language that the congressional districts be "composed of contiguous territory as compact and as nearly equal in population as may be."
See Friday's News Tribune for more details on this story.