Legislature will miss gerrymander fix deadline, what now?

Cris Dush. Youtube

Cris Dush. Youtube

This week the Pennsylvania Supreme Court released a 139-page opinion detailing why it rejected the state's Republican-drawn congressional districts for "clearly, plainly, and palpably" violating the state's Constitution.

The scramble to redraw districts for this year's elections in Pennsylvania is a preview of redistricting dominoes in several states that could alter the balance on Capitol Hill in the coming years.

The opinion breaks new ground, then, by asserting that considerations like avoiding situations where municipalities are divided between congressional districts, are more important than other factors that have always been considered during the redistricting process.

And the order also doesn't seem to allow time for a vetoed map to come back to the General Assembly, as is typical procedure for legislation. The required non-biased Congressional district mapping is meant to reaffirm voters, not a political party, decide who represents us.

On Jan. 25, Scarnati, joined by state House Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's ruling, ignoring that the U.S. Supreme Court has historically deferred to state courts in cases regarding state constitutional matters. In that case, the lower courts had determined that the district was legal.

And with federal courts unlikely to provide recourse?

The legislature was ordered to redraw the map by the majority Democratic Pa.

The current Pennsylvania map includes the sprawling 7th District, which critics say resembles the cartoon character Goofy kicking Donald Duck. "They ate up two weeks of their time" bringing the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court, Kuniholm said.

"I'm not being hyperbolic when I say this: people want to save our democracy, and I think that really, that is what's at stake", said Holder.

The decision could set up a scramble by lawmakers to comply with the order before the deadline, but it wasn't clear Monday that lawmakers intend to even try.

In Wednesday's filing, lawyers wrote that the state judicial panel still has the authority to intervene despite the Supreme Court's order. One option would be to create a map that is broadly acceptable to lawmakers and submit it directly to Wolf for review.

In an order issued January 22, the state Supreme Court declared the current map of districts unconstitutional, and said that if the General Assembly wants to create a map for consideration "it shall submit such plan for consideration by the Governor on or before" Friday.

When the existing maps were drawn, the Legislature and the governor's office were both controlled by Republicans.

Another expert explained the methods legislatures use to consolidate power for the party in control.

"This arbitrary deadline that the Supreme Court has passed is unconstitutional", Dush said during the meeting.

The court majority has said to expect a new map by February 19. "They've given us a very tight timeline to begin with". An appeal in state court will determine the ultimate fate of those districts, but for this November's election, they will revert to the versions drawn by General Assembly in 2017.

The circumstances could have dramatic implications in this year of mid-term Congressional elections.

"I'm able to conclude with well-over 99.9 percent statistical certainty that the [2011 Plan's] creation of a 13-5 Republican advantage in Pennsylvania's congressional delegation is an outcome that would never have emerged from a districting process adhering to and following traditional districting principles", Chen told the court. A special election to replace Murphy will take place next month. But the majority of justices - all Democrats - failed by not getting a Republican to join them. Overall, the AP analysis found Republicans won as many as 22 additional U.S. House seats over what would have been expected based on the average congressional vote share across the country. Bob Brady, a Democrat from Philadelphia; Rep. Patrick Meehan, a Republican from Delaware County; Bill Shuster, a Republican from Bedford County; Lou Barletta, a Republican from Luzerne County; and Charlie Dent, a Republican from Lehigh County.

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