Elections

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Releases New Congressional Map

SK Ashby
Written by SK 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.