Supremes slap down GOP efforts to delay Pennsylvania redistricting

Supremes slap down GOP efforts to delay Pennsylvania redistricting

Supremes slap down GOP efforts to delay Pennsylvania redistricting

Thanks to the way election law works, the Republican appeal went straight to a 3-judge district court, which unanimously denied their arguments to overturn the new map.

A panel of federal judges is throwing out a legal challenge by Republican congressmen to a district map developed last month by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The GOP had repeatedly won 13 out of those 18 seats, leaving only five for Democrats - a pattern that had prevailed in every congressional election since 2011.

In total, Democrats need to pick up 24 seats to take control of the House of Representatives, or 23 if Conor Lamb's lead holds from last week's special election in Pennsylvania's 18th District.

The new map drawn by the state Supreme Court would mean more historically Democratic electorates in three seats in the suburbs of Philadelphia, including one region largely represented by Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick and another represented in part by GOP Rep. Ryan Costello.

The Supreme Court gave no reasoning in its one-sentence order, only that it was considered by all nine justices.

The state Supreme Court redrew the map in February after it determined the previous map "plainly and palpably" violated the state Constitution.

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision comes a day before a filing deadline for the May primaries.


In both cases, Republicans argued only lawmakers have the power to draw voting districts.

The legal battle began past year with a lawsuit from the League of Women Voters, echoing critics who had held up Pennsylvania's bizarrely shaped districts as a prime example of partisan gerrymandering, in which one party engineers lines to marginalize opposing voters.

Pennsylvania Republicans controlled the redistricting process in 2011 and drew a congressional map that significantly benefitted their party, according to the court ruling.

In statements, Republican legislative leaders in Pennsylvania said they were disappointed by the rulings but reiterated their belief that the state Supreme Court had usurped the legislature's role.

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, now chair of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, accused Republicans of seeking retribution against justices who struck down the old map. It said it had no authority to act in the matter except to dismiss the case.

The questions were: did that Clause bar the state Supreme Court from drawing its own map using criteria that it had just spelled out for the first time, and did that Clause require the state court to give the legislature sufficient time to come up on its own with a replacement map? They want the new map put on hold while they pursue an appeal to the nation's highest court. Yes, there are some variables (like a majority-Democrat Supreme Court, with one member who was openly hostile to gerrymandering during his campaign for the appellate bench.).

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