New Pa. congressional map now on Governor Wolf's desk for review
07:57, Feb 12, 2018
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Justice Samuel Alito left in force a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling requiring the Republican-controlled legislature to draw new lines by February 9 for approval by the Democratic governor.
The court declared the 2011 Republican-crafted map unconstitutional on January 22 and directed the General Assembly to propose a new one and send it to Democratic Governor Tom Wolf.
Wolf will then have until Thursday to tell the justices if he supports it. By a 5-2 vote, the court ordered that new maps be drawn up to more fairly reflect Pennsylvanians' voices in the election coming up in November.
It's no secret why the Pennsylvania GOP wants to keep the map: With cleverly drawn lines, the party has managed to win 13 out of 18 USA congressional seats even in years where Democrats got the overall majority of the votes.
The new map would have the infamous 7th Congressional district cut a swath through parts of Montgomery, Chester, and Delaware Counties on a generally northeast to southwest axis. The Supreme Court decision will go a long way to end it.
While federal courts have, to date, been unable to settle on a workable standard by which to assess such claims under the federal Constitution, we find no such barriers under our great Pennsylvania charter.
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"With regard to individuals living in "packed" Democratic districts under the Plan, the weight of their votes has been "substantially diluted, ' and their votes have no 'impact on election outcomes, ' the court wrote, summarizing the plaintiffs" argument".
The gerrymandering case arose from a lawsuit filed last summer by 18 registered Democrat voters and the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, who alleged that partisan cutting of the Congressional lines after the 2010 census amounted to "viewpoint discrimination" against Democratic voters. But by the time he musters a majority of House members to impeach the jurists and two-thirds of senators to remove them-if that ever comes to pass-it will be too late.
Redrawing Congressional maps in two weeks does not seem to promote fairness to all parties involved. Despite the ongoing court battles, Lewis said he believes the State Board of Elections will be ready to open candidate filing by Monday.
Republicans held a 13th seat before U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy resigned previous year. Once they know the districts.
But the threat of a judicial coup to preserve political power also appears to be an emerging strategy Republican-gerrymandered states are using to preserve their power. "A broad and robust interpretation of Article I, Section 5 serves as a bulwark against the adverse consequences of partisan gerrymandering".
An Associated Press analysis published last June found Pennsylvania Republicans won about three more congressional seats in the 2016 election than would have been expected based on the party's overall share of the vote. In other words, if Pennsylvania's voters were half Republicans and half Democrats, a "neutral" plan would not deliver nine Democrats and nine Republicans to the House of Representatives; rather, it would deliver eight Democrats and 10 Republicans. They asked the nation's Supreme Court to step in and block the ruling lest "chaos" ensue. Without the opinion explaining why the map is unconstitutional - and thus providing some guidance on what a constitutional map should look like - the lawmakers could not make substantive progress on a new map out of fear it will again be deemed illegal, they said.
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