Pennsylvania top court tosses congressional map boundaries seen as gerrymandered for GOP

Justice throw out Pennsylvania's congressional districting map

Pennsylvania top court tosses congressional map boundaries seen as gerrymandered for GOP

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the state's congressional map Monday, granting a major victory to Democrats who charged that the 18 districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit Republicans. The court also ordered the legislature to redraw the districts and have them approved by the governor before February 15, ahead of the May primaries.

According to the order, congressional districts in the state must be "composed of compact and contiguous territory; as almost equal in population as practicable; and which do not divide any county, city, incorporated town, borough, township, or ward, except where necessary to ensure equality of population". It's unclear whether the high court will intervene in the case because the Pennsylvania court said its ruling was based on state law - on which it has the final word - and not federal law.

The Pennsylvania congressional map has been notorious since its first use, in 2012, when Republicans won (and have subsequently held) 13 of the state's 18 House seats despite losing a majority of the popular vote.

Former California Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger recently used some Terminator-oriented catchphrases in an effort to raise awareness of gerrymandering, i.e. the practice by which some states (allegedly) draw legislative districts in a racially biased manner. Tim Murphy, which is already so competitive that Donald Trump is scrambling to help the Republican candidate.

Republicans now control both houses of the general assembly, setting up another potential battle over a map that now has the GOP in control of 12 of the state's 18 congressional districts.

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Wolf, for his part, applauded the decision and said he would cooperate to expedite the new maps.

Gov. Tom Wolf said his administration is reviewing the order and assessing the executive branch's next steps in this process. That puts Pennsylvania among the ranks of the most gerrymandered states in the country. Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb. The court's order did not specify how the map runs afoul of the law but said a full opinion will be released in the future.

However, it is unclear if the May primary would be disrupted, should the Supreme Court decide to hear the case. In that way, the challengers' lawsuit claimed, the legislature "packed" Democratic voters into some districts and "cracked" them among the others. "And we will keep fighting to make sure our election process is fair to every voter", Perez wrote in a statement released Monday. He did so in the hope that SCOTUS would rule the practice unconstitutional, which could happen, but for now, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has taken matters into its own hands.

The state Senate president, Joe Scarnati, and majority leader, Jake Corman, both Republicans, called the court's deadline for a new map "impossible" and said they would request a stay from the US Supreme Court.

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