Supreme Court Keeps Pennsylvania Congressional Map in Place

Court Rulings End GOP Efforts to Block Voting Map for Pennsylvania

US Supreme Court Dismisses Attempt To Block New Pa. Congressional Map

The state Supreme Court map created far more compact and demographically diverse districts than the map it replaced.

In a separate action, Speaker of the Pennsylvania House Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro-Tempore Joseph Scarnati had sought an emergency stay from the U.S. Supreme Court, which if granted would have kept the 2011 map in place for this year's election while they continued their appeal.

On Monday, an appeals court and the Supreme Court both rejected emergency appeals by Republicans to issue an injunction against the new districts that were drawn after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the maps now in use were illegally gerrymandered to favor Republicans.

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So that's that. The 2018 election will be held under a map that's been drawn fairly, and that's likely to mean Democrats will pick up three or four seats.

For Democrats, the Supreme Court order is good news on top of good news.

The issue of what the federal Constitution might require to make a partisan gerrymander invalid was not an issue in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision, since that ruling was based entirely on an interpretation of the state constitution.

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In both cases, Republicans argued only lawmakers have the power to draw voting districts. The District Court responded that the two senators can not represent the whole institution of the General Assembly. "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.

The judges said Monday they have no authority to act in the matter except to throw out the case.

Monday's action was the second time that the court declined to get involved in the partisan battle that has roiled Pennsylvania politics. After the legislature did not meet a court deadline to submit a new version, the court drew its own map.

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The new map straightens numerous borders between districts and splits fewer counties. In early October, the justices heard arguments in a Wisconsin case where Democrats are challenging state election districts that all but guaranteed the GOP would win super-majority control of the House, even in years when Democrats won a statewide majority. If you're in an optimistic mood, it might suggest that the Supreme Court is becoming less tolerant of blatant gerrymandering. The map was one of the most egregious examples of gerrymandering - a strategy of drawing districts in outlandish ways in an effort to elect more members of one party - in the country's history, as Marc Stier, the director of Pennsylvania's Budget and Policy Center, put it in an interview with ThinkProgress last week. This week, the justices said they will issue decisions on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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