Two weeks to draw new Congressional an impractical task

Marsha Scott
February 10, 2018

Two days ahead of the deadline for the state legislature the state Supreme Court released the majority opinion detailing its new standard for Congressional maps in the state.

Wolf must present the court with the new map by February 15.

Wecht cast a deciding vote in November, when the court issued a 4-3 decision to put the case on a fast track, a ruling that could result in new maps in time for this year's congressional races. And there's some speculation that the state Supreme Court's lack of movement on releasing its detailed opinion may be meant to avoid releasing anything that would provide fodder for a legal challenge, he said.

"Then it would provide grounds for people who oppose the state Supreme Court order to say, 'You can't do that because the federal government says you can't do that'".

Reed has recused himself from the negotiations over how to redraw the congressional maps because he's running for Congress. Reed, from Indiana County, lives in the district now represented by U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Bedford County, one of five incumbent members of Congress not seeking re-election.

The new map is the result of a January 22 order from Pennsylvania's Supreme Court, which invalidated the existing district boundaries as an illegal gerrymander by the Republican-controlled legislature.

Republican leaders, who were legislative defendants in the case, have criticized the court for overstepping with its decision.

Drew Crompton, Senate Republicans' top lawyer, said his caucus is working with House Republicans to develop a map.

Scarnati, he said, has refused to turn over data used to create the original district map. The districts that can't be used are the ones that involve questions of state law. The case in which the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene on Monday was filed in state court and attorneys for the League of Women Voters argued they based their arguments on state law. The lawsuit contended that this was deliberate, an attempt by Republicans to pack as many Democratic voters as possible into the smallest number of districts, ensuring large numbers of "wasted" votes in each.

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In her dissenting opinion, Justice Sallie Updyke Mundy disagreed with the majority's logic and with the court-ordered remedy.

"What the court utterly fails to do", Dimino said, "is say how much dilution is too much".

Tuesday's decision is an important victory that will give Guilford County voters an election in which everyone's vote will count.

"Indeed, it is hard to imagine how a district as Rorschachian and sprawling, which is contiguous in two locations only by virtue of a medical facility and a seafood/steakhouse, respectively, might plausibly be referred to as 'compact, '" wrote Todd. The three-judge panel of the Middle District ruled the maps unconstitutional, a decision upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last summer. Montgomery County is split between five districts and Bucks and Westmoreland counties are split four-ways. And if the courts create their own redistricting plan, lawmakers will have consider whether or how to respond. However, they do have a backup plan.

Those political factors, like protecting incumbents, have always been part of the redistricting process, no matter which party is in control, Dimino said.

"It's going to be unusual for me the next few weeks", Houlahan said of waiting on new boundaries.

By being overprotective, such rules, he wrote "are, by their nature, vulnerable to claims of illegitimacy". Voting in these elections is serious stuff.

Republicans have held 13 of the state's 18 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives since the current map went into effect for the 2012 election, despite Pennsylvania's status as a closely divided swing state. Pennsylvania Republicans have until tomorrow to redraw the map, but instead they have launched a campaign to fight the ruling.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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