Voter Suppression

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Strikes Down Gerrymandered Districts

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

To quote former Vice President Joe Biden, this is a "big fucking deal."

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled today that the state's congressional map is unconstitutional under the state's constitution.

The suit, brought by the League of Women Voters on behalf of 18 voters in each of the state’s congressional districts, said that GOP lawmakers had retaliated against Democratic voters for supporting Democratic candidates, violating the equal protection and free expression guarantees in the state constitution.

The justices gave GOP lawmakers until Feb. 9 to submit a new map and gave Gov. Tom Wolf (D) until Feb. 15 to approve it. Should the parties fail to reach an agreement on the plan, the justices said the court would move quickly on its own to develop a constitutional congressional map. The court said the new map could be expected by Feb. 19.

It's a very big deal that the state supreme court ruled that the gerrymandered districts violate the state constitution because that makes this is the final word. State Republicans say they will appeal the ruling, but it's not clear if they actually can appeal the ruling.

The United States Supreme Court has halted previous orders to draw new maps, but those orders were handed down by federal courts, not state courts. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court wrote that they've ruled against the state's maps on the "sole basis" that they "violate the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania." The language of the ruling seems designed to evade a US Supreme Court challenge.

If the Supreme Court does intervene in this case, it would be highly unusual. That doesn't mean it won't happen.

  • Draxiar

    Gerrymandering is nothing short of voter suppression.

  • muselet

    State Republicans say they will appeal the ruling, but it’s not clear if they actually can appeal the ruling.

    Historically, the Supreme Court has stayed out of disputes based solely on state constitutional issues. Whether the current crop of Supremes will follow suit remains to be seen.

    On a related note, California’s redistricting is done by a nonpartisan commission, for both legislative and Congressional districts. Since Ds are in the majority in the state, Ds hold a majority of seats, but Rs are revving up the noise machine to argue the commission is partisan and the districts are unconstitutionally gerrymandered. The Rs’ lack of self-awareness is staggering sometimes.

    –alopecia

  • Username1016

    “The justices gave GOP lawmakers until Feb. 9 to submit a new map and gave Gov. Tom Wolf (D) until Feb. 15 to approve it.” LOL, that’s Parenting 101! Jimmy must cut the slices of cake, but Tommy gets first pick of the resulting pieces. Also, yippee! I live in PA, so I’m delighted to hear this. Maybe I’ll even donate to the LWVPA.

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  • waspuppet

    Let’s not forget that conservative devotion to small local government is strictly conditioned on those local governments giving them exactly what they want.

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