Supreme Court Won't Block New Pennsylvania Voting Maps

A look into what former Penn prof's redrawn PA district lines mean for Penn

Pennsylvania Republicans lose challenge to redrawn congressional map

In a separate case, two senior Republicans in the state Legislature who were on the losing end of the state Supreme Court decision had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a stay, which would have resulted in the use of the 2011 map for this year's congressional elections.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court had ruled in January that the old map was a partisan gerrymander that violated the state constitution and ordered lawmakers to submit a new map.

Independent political analysts have said the new map will boost Democratic chances in one-third of the state's 18 seats, which Republicans have dominated since the old district lines took effect in 2011 despite Pennsylvania's status as a closely divided electoral swing state.

In a decision about two hours earlier in federal district court, a three-judge panel ruled that eight Pennsylvania Republican congressmen and state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, lacked the standing to block the new map.

President Trump weighed in on Twitter on February 20, urging Pennsylvania Republicans to fight the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

Matt Haverstick, a lawyer for the congressmen, said they were disappointed and considering their legal options.

Both Meredith and Goldfeder agree that this case may set a precedent for gerrymandering suits to be considered under state law instead of federal law, though this may depend on the outcome of several cases now in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. The deadline for turning them in is Tuesday. All told, Democrats need to flip 23 seats nationwide to capture control of the House.


"Their latest stay application is just another ploy to preserve congressional districts that violate Pennsylvania's Constitution for one more election cycle", said a brief for the League of Women Voters, adding, "It would be unprecedented for this Court to interfere with the state court's determination about its own state's law".

The earlier state map has been a campaign victor for Republicans, leading them to a 13-5 edge in Pennsylvania's congressional delegation for all three elections in which it was used, even though Democrats had a voter registration edge.

"I applaud these decisions that will allow the upcoming election to move forward with the new and fair congressional maps", Wolf said in a statement. "These are things that, on the present record, we can not do".

The denial of the latest application, like the denial of the earlier one, was unsurprising because the Pennsylvania court had based its rulings exclusively on the state Constitution. At the time, Costello, R-6, of West Goshen, said that the state Supreme Court's majority and Wolf had colluded in redrawing the state's congressional district map, targeting him in particular to turn his district in favor of Houlahan, of Easttown. "And I don't think, with today's decisions, that that confusion goes away". It's worth recalling this ruling was always a long shot, as the Supreme Court tends to defer state constitutional matters to that state's Supreme Court. That is now not going to happen.

There are few legal options left for Republicans in the state.

The challengers pointed out that qualifying has already begun under the new map and that "at least 150 candidates in all 18 new districts have begun collecting voter signatures on nomination petitions" for May 15 primaries.

More than 40 candidates had filed petition paperwork by mid-day Monday, according to state elections bureau data.

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