Double defeat for challenge to new Congressional map

Frederick Owens
March 20, 2018

Under the map that was tossed out earlier this year by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, only five of the state's 18 congressional districts are represented by Democrats - despite the fact that registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in the swing state.

The U.S. Supreme Court request for a stay, filed by state Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, and House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, was sent to Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who has jurisdiction for cases coming out of the area.

This is a developing story.

The twin rulings, which ensure November's midterm elections in Pennsylvania will be contested using the new boundaries, were announced just 24 hours before candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives must file petitions to secure spots on ballots. "The people of Pennsylvania are exhausted of gerrymandering and the new map corrects past mistakes that created unfair Congressional Districts and attempted to diminish the impact of citizens' votes", Gov. Tom Wolf said.

After the map was adopted, the legislative leaders were back, renewing their plea that the Pennsylvania justices were taking away the power that rightfully belongs to the state legislature to draw congressional lines.

An attempt by republican lawmakers to throw out a new congressional map has been dealt a major setback.

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A similar motion is before the U.S. Supreme Court and there has been no indication of when the high court will issue a ruling. "Now, Pennsylvania must move forward and work together to enact nonpartisan redistricting reforms", Wolf said.

The three judges hearing the arguments were all appointed by Republican presidents.

When Pennsylvania lawmakers and the Democratic governor didn't agree on a new map, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its own map, drawn with the help of a Stanford law professor. They wanted the new map put on hold while they pursued an appeal to the nation's highest court.

The rebuff gives Democrats a chance to build on a potential victory they notched in a special election held March 13 for a formerly Republican-held seat under the old map.

In the federal lawsuit, though, the Republican lawmakers did not have standing, the federal judges said.

Then there is the broader import of the Supreme Court declining to hear the redistricting appeal by Pennsylvania Republicans. But it's worth looking at the results this map created; in the 2016 races, Republicans got 53% of the vote, and Democrats 45% in Congressional elections, which would mean Pennsylvania, all things being equal, would have sent a slight majority of Republicans to Congress.

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