After the Pennsylvania legislature and Governor failed to find a new Congressional map, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court filled the void and produced new congressional district lines for the state’s 2018 elections. Republican leaders are expected to challenge the Court drawn plan on the grounds map drawing falls within the purview of the legislature and not the courts.
As a way of background, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled by a 4-3 vote the congressional district lines were a partisan gerrymander in violation of the state Constitution. This decision unsuccessfully was appealed to the United States Supreme Court. In the order, the state legislature was forced to draw new lines on a very short time frame. The Republican dominated legislature drew a map comparable to the one thrown out by the state Supreme Court. The Governor didn’t approve of the new lines, so the Supreme Court issued a new map on February 19.
For background purposes, after the 2010 census, the legislature drew a map that eventually elected 13 Republicans out of the 18 Congressional districts. Since the state generally is considered about 50/50 Democrat/Republican based on results in general elections and statewide elections, the congressional plan was challenged.
Interestingly, the federal court upheld the plan; however, the state Supreme Court stepped in and ruled the plans violated the state constitution. Some observers argue this state court angle might be a roadmap for potential challenges to other state redistricting plans drawn in a highly partisan manner.
The Supreme Court map is thought to favor Democrats such that Democrats could pick up as many as 4 to 5 new seats. Is this fair or not? Stay in touch as legal challenges ensue.
Partisan gerrymandering cases remain very active. The US Supreme Court will have oral argument on a partisan gerrymandering case out of Maryland and will issue a decision in the Wisconsin gerrymandering case later this year.
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