Pennsylvania lawmakers will not pass a new congressional map before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s deadline- which is today.
The state’s Supreme Court had ordered January 22 that a new map of the state’s 18 congressional districts be drawn after ruling that the current map – created in 2011 by the state’s GOP-controlled General Assembly – was unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor Republicans.
As you can see, it unifies Erie County as part of the third district but the map was apparently drawn up by House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati. The implications are huge: correcting the skewed districts could send as many as five more Democrats to Washington, improving their party’s prospects of taking control of the House of Representatives in mid-term elections in 2018. State Rep. Chris Rabb (D-200) said the issue won’t even reach the House of Representatives.
The hustle to redraw the state’s congressional maps has left candidates such as Democrat Chrissy Houlahan wondering what district they’ll ultimately represent if they win.
“Though significant election deadlines are rapidly approaching, there is still time for this Court to act to ensure the Joint Plaintiffs are finally afforded a full measure of justice”, the motion says. DEMOCRATS TRYING TO BREAK GOP SUPER-MAJORITIESIn a Facetime interview with ABC11, Durham and Orange County Democrat Graig Meyer defended his party’s decision to keep fighting for the new maps in court.
The map was not delivered as a bill passed by majorities of the House and Senate.
The U.S. Supreme Court last month blocked a ruling that would have forced North Carolina to redraw its congressional voting map for the 2018 election.
In making its assessment, the court looked to the standards set by the state constitution to draw state legislative boundaries as a model for determining when US congressional districts are constitutional. If this hodgepodge of Persily/NCGA districts holds up for November, Republicans would appear to be in a stronger position, which is why they’re fighting the federal court so hard.
The Wolf administration is not taking a position as to whether a joint submission by Scarnati and Turzai alone falls within the bounds of the court’s order, noting that the court has ultimate discretion to decide such matters. Given the sharp and narrow political divides in Congress these days, changing the partisan makeup of just one state’s House delegation has the potential to bring national consequences.
In states with a large number of districts, such as Pennsylvania, the leeway afforded to lawmakers is huge.
Many pundits are assuming the redrawing of maps favors Democrats, but numerous Democratic candidates will be challengers with a name recognition deficit. The three-judge panel of the Middle District ruled the maps unconstitutional, a decision upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last summer.
“It’s saying, Apply these standards when you draw new maps, but we reserve the right to throw them out if we don’t like them”, said Crompton.
The voters who successfully challenged the Pennsylvania map argued in a filing before the U.S. Supreme Court that their case was decided based on the state constitution, so federal courts should give deference to the ruling.
“It’s going to be odd for me the next few weeks”, Houlahan said of waiting on new boundaries. They are seeking, Berman wrote, “to transform the state’s courts by gerrymandering judicial maps to elect more Republican judges, preventing [Democratic Gov.] Cooper from making key judicial appointments, and seeking to get rid of judicial elections altogether”.
The Republican leaders said their map splits only 32 counties and municipalities, 62 fewer than the 2011 map. It will be used for the May 15 primary but not for the March 13 special election to fill a vacant congressional seat in southwestern Pennsylvania.