Pennsylvania lawmakers face Friday deadline for new congressional map

NC Voters Seek Emergency Relief after High Court Gerrymander Order

"Courts have overturned 14 laws passed by the legislature since 2011, including redistricting maps for the House of Representatives and the state legislature that one federal court called 'among the largest racial gerrymanders ever encountered by a federal court.' Sweeping voting restrictions passed by the legislature in 2013 suffered a similar fate, with a federal appeals court saying they targeted 'African Americans with nearly surgical precision.' The legislature's Republican supermajority hasn't fared any better in state courts, which have blocked GOP efforts to strip teachers of tenure and to prevent the state's Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, from appointing a majority of commissioners on state and local boards of elections". Eagles issued a preliminary injunction requiring primaries for the Court of Appeals and state Supreme Court, but allowed primaries for trial court seats to remain canceled while lawmakers debate redrawing judicial election districts. Well, they had the audacity to rule that Pennsylvania's heavily gerrymandered congressional maps had to be redrawn in a less partisan fashion. In the last election, Republicans took over two-thirds of the state legislative spots, even though Trump won by less than a percentage point. Joe Scarnati's office to protest his response to Monday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The state Supreme Court called for new maps on January 22, less than a week after hearing oral arguments in a lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters on behalf of voters from each of the state's 18 congressional districts. That opinion would outline how the map violates the state constitution and give direction for redrawing the districts. The map includes a district in the Philadelphia suburbs that has been described as resembling Goofy kicking Donald Duck. The district is held by Republican Patrick Meehan, who is retiring after reports that he settled a sexual harassment allegation.

Corman said it's not obvious that the court will automatically OK a plan if it's passed by the Legislature and approved by the governor.

The constitution that served as the basis of the Court's opinion was Pennsylvania's constitution, which contains a "free and equal elections" clause, and pre-dates the U.S. Constitution by ten years.

"An election corrupted by extensive, sophisticated gerrymandering and partisan dilution of votes is not 'free and equal, '" wrote Justice Debra McCloskey Todd. In the event that it does, it said in its order that it would invite parties to the court case - likely including Turzai Scarnati, Wolf and others - to submit maps for the court's consideration. Democrats pointed out lawyers for the Republican legislative leaders who've been sued have argued that state court is the place where this issue should be heard.

The PA Supreme Court gave lawmakers until February 9 to make a new map. "They are trying to ignore a Supreme Court decision that came out less than 24 hours ago". Despite the ongoing court battles, Lewis said he believes the State Board of Elections will be ready to open candidate filing by Monday.

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.

That advantage has been despite the fact that Democrats outnumber Republicans in Pennsylvania.

The governor, when he reviews maps, will be receiving help from Moon Duchin, a professor of mathematics at Tufts University, to help evaluate any potential maps to determine their fairness.

"Apparently no one in Pennsylvania knows how to do this", Corman said.

"This has a veneer of naked partisanship" that has not be as obvious in other recent conflicts between the Legislature and the courts, he said.

Some of the Congressional boundaries need to be redrawn.



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