US High Court Allows Pennsylvania Election Map, Rejecting GOP


Earlier, a three-judge panel in Pennsylvania upheld the state's new congressional map.

The previous map was drafted to aid Republican candidates and proved to be a campaign victor for them, leading the GOP to a 13-5 edge in the state's congressional delegation for all three elections in which it was used. That argument did not appear to gain traction with Justice Alito. It said it had no authority to act in the matter except to dismiss the case.

Democrats filed suit and the state Supreme Court, where Democrats seized majority control in 2015, sided with them, ordering that the map drawn by Republicans in the state legislature and the governor's office was motivated too much by political concerns and needed to be redrawn. He added that as a voter the new map made him feel more comfortable that he is "voting in a place that will send members of Congress [who] accurately reflect who lives here".

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito had denied an earlier stay request on February 5, during a time when the legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf still had a window to adopt a corrective plan through traditional legislation. "The Plaintiffs' frustration with the process by which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court implemented its own redistricting map is plain", the judges wrote.

A group of 18 Democratic voters sued in state court previous year to challenge the 2011 map, a case the state Supreme Court put on a fast track before throwing out the former district lines.

The GOP took two legal routes - one before the U.S. Supreme Court and the other before the federal panel.

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A court majority on Monday denied state Republican legislative leaders' request for an emergency stay that would block the use of a district map drawn by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the looming election cycle.

The state Supreme Court, in a 4-3 split, set one deadline for the legislature to submit a new map for consideration and another deadline for Democratic Gov. Wolf to review it.

"When a court is compelled to draw lines, relying on a special master or an expert to do so, it should remind legislatures that they have the opportunity to do so if they can come to an agreement", Goldfeder said. "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".

"The Plaintiffs are neither the Pennsylvania General Assembly nor a group to which Pennsylvania has delegated the Commonwealth's lawmaking power", the judges wrote.

The U.S. Supreme Court has never thrown out a state's redistricting plan because it has found it so infected with partisan bias that it violates voters' constitutional rights. "These are things that, on the present record, we can not do".