March 24, 2018

New Pa. congressional map now on Governor Wolf's desk for review

10 February 2018, 11:29 | Christie Tate

The new map proposal was submitted without a vote from the General Assembly

The new map proposal was submitted without a vote from the General Assembly

One of the points they made was that the federal court should not have ruled on state constitutional issues (a ban on mid-decade redistricting), as was the case with House districts in Wake and Mecklenburg counties. That map lopped off Easton and several other parts of Northampton County, which would be added back in to the 15th District under the new GOP plan.

Republican leaders in the state House and Senate say they have agreed to a map of Pennsylvania's 18 congressional districts. "Neutral" treatment involves applying good-government criteria to a map without considering the partisan consequences.

The Supreme Court's order "does not deprive this state court of the authority of duty to interpret the state constitution and to ensure that (the plaintiffs) are afforded full constitutional relief", attorneys Allison Riggs and Eddie Speas wrote for their clients.

The battle began last month when Pennsylvania's highest court threw out the state's district boundaries as "clearly, plainly and palpably" violating the right to vote enshrined in its state constitution.

'The new map is drawn by Republican members of the Pa. House and Senate and splits only 17 municipalities and 15 counties. They asked the nation's Supreme Court to step in and block the ruling lest "chaos" ensue.

That, of course, could trigger a new round of legal challenges.

"While an ideal scenario would be a consensus map that can garner the support of both chambers in the General Assembly and meets the standards for fairness, it remains unclear, at this time, if the entire General Assembly will be engaged in such a bipartisan process", Wolf said.

Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Val DiGiorgio insists the GOP's advantage is a natural result of Democrats' concentration in cities.

He could submit a completely different map to the court.

The existing map is generally considered to be one of the worst gerrymanders in the country
The existing map is generally considered to be one of the worst gerrymanders in the country

Wolf said he would review the proposal, but a spokesman for the governor seemed to suggest it wouldn't pass.

The most famous of these is District 7, which has been likened to Goofy kicking Donald Duck. To do that they will need to compromise to reach decisions that benefit us.

It was not clear Friday night if the leaders would be calling rank-and-file lawmakers back into session next week to try ratify the new lines into bill form - as is the typical practice - before court's the February 15 deadline. Gene Yaw, R-Lycoming County.

They said they will submit their map to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf this evening.

Before the Governors statement on Friday, Democratic Representative Frank Dermody who represents Allegheny County tweeted: "It's 6:39 pm". There are now a dozen, six Republicans and six Democrats, running for the seat being vacated by Republican Congressman Charlie Dent, who is not seeking re-election.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court noted that in all three U.S. House elections held after the redistricting, the partisan makeup of the state's delegation remained exactly the same: Democrats won the same five seats every year, while Republicans won the remaining 13.

Republicans said that if the court ends up drawing a map independently of the General Assembly and governor, they intend to bring a case against the justices in federal court-though Crompton called that an avenue of "last resort".

By using the state constitution's "free and equal" clause - and distinguishing it from the federal constitution's Equal Protection Clause - the opinion shows that state constitutions can be broader in their protections, providing a new avenue for fighting partisan gerrymandering, said Joshua A. Douglas, a law professor at the University of Kentucky and expert on election law.

"This resolution carries a message that elections don't count when Democrats win them", he said.

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