Elections

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Releases New Congressional Map

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ordered state lawmakers to draw a new map after striking down the state's gerrymandered districts but reserved the right to draw a map if lawmakers refused to cooperate.

Republicans obviously didn't cooperate. Republican lawmakers filed an appeal with the United States Supreme Court, which rejected it, and they followed that up by drawing a map that is even more gerrymandered in their favor.

The state Supreme Court has now released its own map that Republicans are vowing to fight.

The new map "is composed of congressional districts which follow the traditional redistricting criteria of compactness, contiguity, equality of population, and respect for the integrity of political subdivisions," the court's order said. [...]

The new map means that Democrats could win up to 11 seats in Pennsylvania in midterm elections, said Michael Li, a lawyer with the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s law school, which filed an amicus brief in the case.

“This is the map that many people think is natural for Pennsylvania, which is a 50-50 state, a classic battleground, but hasn’t performed that way in terms of congressional elections for decades,” he said by telephone.

State Republicans say they will challenge the new map in federal court, but it's not clear to me if they have a leg to stand on. The highest federal court in the land has already rejected their efforts to stop the new districts and Republicans intend to ask a lower federal court to invalidate the state Supreme Court's decision.

The Republican appeal to the Supreme Court was rejected by arch-conservative Justice Alito and that makes it difficult to see them prevailing in a lower federal court. Any appeal filed by lawmakers in Pennsylvania would be handled by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals which is presided over by 7 Democrats and 5 Republicans.

  • muselet

    I am not an expert in redistricting (understatement), nor do I know much about the demographics of Pennsylvania (understatement). I have glanced at the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s map with my distinctly non-expert eyes, however, and I saw no weirdly-shaped districts or obvious shenanigans. The map looked reasonable to me.

    So of course the Rs intend to run crying to the US Supreme Court.

    I’m not sure how this will play out—”only the legislature and the governor can draw district lines” is a different argument than “the mean ol’ court is taking our toy away,” at least if you squint real hard—but I’m sure there are at least a couple of the Supremes who want the Rs’ plan to prevail.

    –alopecia

  • Aynwrong

    I’ve brought this

    • Christopher Foxx

      It’s been the basic Republican playbook for decades now: 1). Falsely accuse the other side of doing the terrible things that they themselves are actually doing (e.g., tax and spend). And 2) claim that all the things the other side is promoting are actually the things you’re promoting, while actually working against all of them (e.g., decent healthcare, rule of law, support for middle and lower classes, etc etc etc ).

  • KABoink_after_wingnut_hacker

    Republicans don’t like it when they can’t cheat.
    Well at least they have their fallback position that let’s them lie and lie and lie…

  • Draxiar

    I think what the Pennsylvania Republicans need to do is pick themselves up by their bootstraps and work for the privilege of serving the residents of their state rather than gaming the system and expecting the office to be handed to them. I’m sure they would agree.

    • Sara Lewis

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