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GOP to take new congressional map to court

Written by Marc Levy/Associated Press | Feb 19, 2018 2:48 PM
remedial_plan.jpg

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court's remedial plan for the state congressional district map. (Graphic courtesy: the Pennsylvania Supreme Court)

We've been covering this issue for months. Find the full breadth of the coverage here:

(Harrisburg) -- Republicans say they'll go to federal court this week to try to block new court-ordered boundaries of Pennsylvania's congressional districts from remaining in effect for 2018's elections.

Top Senate Republican lawyer Drew Crompton said Monday a separation of powers case will form the essence of the GOP's argument. Crompton won't say whether Republicans will go to a district court or the U.S. Supreme Court or what type of legal remedy they'll seek.

But the case will involve making the argument the U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures and governors, not courts, the power to draw congressional boundaries.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court wouldn't stop the state court's order to redraw congressional districts.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf calls the new map an effort to remedy the state's unfair and unequal congressional elections.

An earlier story appears below. 

(Harrisburg) -- Pennsylvania's high court issued a new congressional district map for the state's 2018 elections on its self-imposed deadline on Monday, potentially giving Democrats a boost in their quest to capture control of the U.S. House unless Republicans are able to stop it in federal court.

The map of Pennsylvania's 18 congressional districts is to be in effect for the May 15 primary and substantially overhauls a congressional map widely viewed as among the nation's most gerrymandered. The map was approved in a 4-3 decision, with four Democratic justices backing it and one Democratic justice siding with two Republicans against it.

Most significantly, the new map likely gives Democrats a better shot at winning seats in Philadelphia's heavily populated and moderate suburbs, where Republicans had held seats in bizarrely contorted districts, including one labeled "Goofy Kicking Donald Duck."

Democrats quickly cheered the new map, which could dramatically change the predominantly Republican, all-male delegation elected on a 6-year-old map.

"It remedies the outrageous gerrymander of 2011, and that's the important thing, that the gerrymander be over," said David Landau, the Democratic Party chairman of Delaware County, which was ground zero for the "Goofy Kicking Donald Duck" district. "All that zigging and zagging is all gone, and it makes Delaware County a competitive seat now."

Republican lawmakers are expected to quickly challenge the map in federal court, arguing that legislatures and governors, not courts, have the constitutional responsibility to draw congressional maps.

Mark Harris, a Pittsburgh-based GOP campaign consultant, echoed the reaction of Republicans in bashing the new product.

"It's a straight Democratic gerrymander by a Democratic Supreme Court to help Democrats," Harris said.
Meanwhile, sitting congressmen, dozens of would-be candidates and millions of voters have to sort out which district they live in barely a month before the candidates' deadline to submit paperwork to run. Petitions are due March 20, a two-week delay to accommodate the redrawing process.

congressional_map_redistricting_gerrymandering.jpg

The 2011 congressional district map.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who had backed the court's decision to throw out the 6-year-old map, called the court's map an "effort to remedy Pennsylvania's unfair and unequal congressional elections." He said his focus would become ensuring that his administration update the state elections bureau's systems and ensure processes are in place to help candidates.

The Democratic-majority state Supreme Court ruled last month in a party line decision that the district boundaries unconstitutionally put partisan interests above neutral line-drawing criteria, such as keeping districts compact and eliminating municipal and county divisions.

The decision is the first time a state court threw out congressional boundaries in a partisan gerrymandering case and handed a victory to the group of registered Democratic voters who sued last June in a lawsuit backed by the League of Women Voters.

Candidates can start circulating petitions to run in their new district in a little over a week, Feb. 27. Pennsylvania has seen a surge in interest in running for Congress with six incumbents elected in 2016 not running again -- the most in four decades -- and Democrats vehemently opposing President Donald Trump.

Pennsylvania's Republican delegation has provided a crucial pillar of support for Republican control of the U.S. House since 2010.

Republicans who controlled the Legislature and the governor's office after the 2010 census crafted it to elect Republicans and succeeded in that aim: Republicans won 13 of 18 seats in three straight elections under the now-invalidated map, even though Pennsylvania's statewide elections are often closely divided and registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans.

The new map will not apply to the March 13 special congressional election in southwestern Pennsylvania's 18th District between Republican Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb.

An earlier story appears below. 

(Harrisburg) -- Pennsylvania's high court issued a new congressional district map for the state's 2018 elections on its self-imposed deadline Monday, all but ensuring that Democratic prospects will improve in several seats and that Republican lawmakers challenge it in federal court.

The map of Pennsylvania's 18 congressional districts is to be in effect for the May 15 primary and substantially overhauls a congressional map widely viewed as among the nation's most gerrymandered. The map was approved in a 4-3 decision.

Most significantly, the new map likely gives Democrats a better shot at winning seats in Philadelphia's heavily populated and moderate suburbs, where Republicans had held seats in bizarrely contorted districts, including one labeled "Goofy Kicking Donald Duck."

The redrawn map could boost the Democratic Party's quest to capture control of the U.S. House and dramatically change Pennsylvania's predominantly Republican, all-male delegation.

Meanwhile, sitting congressmen, dozens of would-be candidates and millions of voters have to sort out which district they live in barely a month before the candidates' deadline to submit paperwork to run.

Republican lawmakers are expected to quickly challenge the map in federal court, arguing that legislatures and governors, not courts, have the constitutional responsibility to draw congressional maps.

The Democratic-majority state Supreme Court ruled last month in a party line decision that the district boundaries unconstitutionally put partisan interests above neutral line-drawing criteria, such as keeping districts compact and eliminating municipal and county divisions.

The decision is the first time a state court threw out congressional boundaries in a partisan gerrymandering case and handed a victory to the group of registered Democratic voters who sued last June in a lawsuit backed by the League of Women Voters.

Candidates can start circulating petitions to run in their new district in a little over a week, Feb. 27. Pennsylvania has seen a surge in interest in running for Congress with six incumbents elected in 2016 not running again -- the most in four decades -- and Democrats vehemently opposing President Donald Trump.

Pennsylvania's Republican delegation has provided a crucial pillar of support for Republican control of the U.S. House since 2010.

Republicans who controlled the Legislature and governor's office after the 2010 census crafted it to elect Republicans and succeeded in that aim: Republicans won 13 of 18 seats in three straight elections under the now-invalidated map, even though Pennsylvania's statewide elections are often closely divided and registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans.

The new map will not apply to the March 13 special congressional election in southwestern Pennsylvania's 18th District between Republican Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb.

An earlier story appears below. 

(Harrisburg) -- The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is imposing a new congressional district map for the state's 2018 elections, meeting its deadline to do so and likely setting up a challenge from Republicans.

Monday's order means a new map is to take effect in the May 15 primary. Republican lawmakers are expected to quickly challenge it in federal court, arguing legislatures and governors, not courts, have the constitutional responsibility to draw congressional maps.

If it stands, the revised map is almost certain to improve Democrats' chances in more seats this year.

The Democratic-majority state high court ruled last month that Pennsylvania's district boundaries were unconstitutionally gerrymandered. Republicans have won 13 of Pennsylvania's 18 seats in three elections under the invalidated map, although statewide elections are often closely contested.

The new map won't apply to March's special election in southwestern Pennsylvania's 18th District.

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