Friday, 20 April, 2018

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Strikes Down Pro-GOP Congressional Map As Unconstitutional

Justice throw out Pennsylvania's congressional districting map Pennsylvania Supreme Court throws out state's congressional map
Charlie Simmons | 23 January, 2018, 02:21

A new map could give Democratic candidates a chance to capture as many as half a dozen Republican seats in Pennsylvania alone, with national polls showing voters strongly favoring Democrats in 2018.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has struck down the boundaries of the state's 18 congressional districts, granting a major victory to plaintiffs who had contended that they were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit Republicans.

Reacting to the news, Governor Wolf said his office is reviewing the order and assessing their next steps.

The court gave the state legislature February 9 to come up with a less Gerrymandered map - which must be approved by Gov. Tom Wolf before February 15 - or it would impose one of its own, after hearing testimony and reviewing submitted potential district maps. The Republican-controlled legislature created the current map in 2011, after the 2010 U.S. census.

The nation's high court already halted a decision from a three-judge federal court panel that ordered North Carolina's Republican-drawn Congressional map reconfigured.

Monday's decision could encourage similar state-court challenges elsewhere, said Li, the redistricting expert. Critics say Pennsylvania's Congressional district map is one of the most gerrymandered in the country.

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The ruling could encourage groups to bring similar challenges against congressional gerrymandering cases in other states and bypass a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, which is now considering two cases dealing with partisan gerrymandering.

Some of Pennsylvania's districts are extremely gerrymandered, including the state's 7th District - a bizarrely shaped seat Republicans traditionally win, but one Hillary Clinton carried in 2016 by a slim two-point margin. Rep.

The state Senate president, Joe Scarnati, and majority leader, Jake Corman, both Republicans, called the court's deadline "impossible" and said they would request a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court. He did so in the hope that SCOTUS would rule the practice unconstitutional, which could happen, but for now, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has taken matters into its own hands.

"It is clear that with this ruling the court is attempting to bypass the Constitution and the legislative process and legislate themselves, directly from the bench", the two lawmakers said in a statement.

The case split the Pennsylvania Supreme Court largely along partisan lines.

The right to vote is one of the most basic guaranteed under the Constitution.

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