US Supreme Court denies stay of Pennsylvania's court-drawn congressional maps

Lucy Bush
March 20, 2018

Earlier, a three-judge panel in Pennsylvania upheld the state's new congressional map. Republicans had won 13 of the state's 18 congressional seats in the three elections where the old map was used. The argument that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stepped on the legislature's rights should be brought by the General Assembly as an institution, they wrote.

"The plaintiffs invite us to opine on the appropriate balance of power between the Commonwealth's legislature and judiciary in redistricting matters, and then to pass judgment on the propriety of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's actions under the United States Constitution", the judges wrote.

"I applaud these decisions that will allow the upcoming election to move forward with the new and fair congressional maps".

Despite the state's demonstrated Democratic lean (President Donald Trump was the first Republican to carry the state at the presidential level since George H.W. Bush in 1988), the map usually advantaged the GOP. "The Plaintiffs' frustration with the process by which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court implemented its own redistricting map is plain", the judges said.

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All five Democrats on the state Supreme Court said the map violated the state constitution, but one of the Democrats joined both Republicans in objecting to the majority's determination to enact a new map for this year's races.

At issue was a map put in place by Republicans at the state level in Pennsylvania following the 2010 census.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court had ruled in January that the old map was a partisan gerrymander that violated the state constitution and ordered lawmakers to submit a new map.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied a GOP-led request to hold off on using a new House map for the state of Pennsylvania, meaning candidates - including Republican Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb lawmakers who recently faced off in a tough battle - in the state will run in new districts this November.

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"When a court is compelled to draw lines, relying on a special master or an expert to do so, it should remind legislatures that they have the opportunity to do so if they can come to an agreement", Goldfeder said. "These are things that, on the present record, we can not do".

The case arose from a lawsuit filed last summer by 18 registered Democrat voters and the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, who alleged that partisan cutting of the Congressional lines after the 2010 census amounted to "viewpoint discrimination" against Democratic voters.

Because the ruling was based on the state's constitution and not the US Constitution, the options for opponents to challenge it were limited.

"If the ice cream's melting on the dot, you have Justice Alito considering the...request", Chief U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner said during the hearing.

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Other reports by Info About Network

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