Justice throw out Pennsylvania's congressional districting map

23 January, 2018, 02:12 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Supreme Court rules in favor of redistricting complaint

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Monday that the gerrymandering of the state's current congressional map violated the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Under the state supreme court's order, the state legislature must submit new maps to the governor by February 9, and the governor has until February 15 to approve the maps and submit them to the court for review.

Guidelines for new map, per the state Supreme Court in gerrymandering decision are that "districts composed of compact and contiguous territory; as almost equal in population as practicable; and which do not divide any county, city, incorporated town, borough, township, or ward, except where necessary to ensure equality of population".

Pennsylvania's top court on Monday threw out the state's congressional map, ruling that Republican legislators unlawfully sought partisan advantage, and gave them three weeks to rework it in a decision that could boost Democratic chances of retaking the U.S. House of Representatives.

Although Pennsylvania is closely divided between Democrats and Republicans, maps drawn by the GOP in 2011 resulted in a 13-5 Republican edge in the state's congressional delegation.

Republicans were in control of the redistricting process in 2010, and have held a majority of the state's congressional districts since the new map was put in place in 2011.

Republicans now control both houses of the general assembly, setting up another potential battle over a map that now has the GOP in control of 12 of the state's 18 congressional districts.


Wolf, for his part, applauded the decision and said he would cooperate to expedite the new maps.

The Pennsylvania map was possible because Republicans win the GOP districts with an average of 59%, while Democrats win theirs with an average of 77%.

In a 4-3 vote, the Democratic-led judiciary struck down the boundaries of the state's 18 congressional districts. Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb.

The legal challenge to the Pennsylvania map, filed by the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, relied on the state constitution, not the US constitution, and lawyers for the plaintiffs said the US Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over the case.

Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez celebrated the court's decision as a "victory for democracy and another blow to the Republican Party's nationwide effort to game the system". In that way, the challengers' lawsuit claimed, the legislature "packed" Democratic voters into some districts and "cracked" them among the others.

All eyes have been on the U.S. Supreme Court to decide at some point this year whether state redistricting decisions could be so partisan as to violate voters' constitutional rights, absent some showing of racial discrimination.

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