Pennsylvania's top court delivers scathing indictment of political gerrymandering

Democrats take map battle back to state court in bid to break GOP supermajority

Democrats take map battle back to state court in bid to break GOP supermajority

What that exactly means continues to be a source of debate. "Courts have overturned 14 laws passed by the legislature since 2011, including redistricting maps for the House of Representatives and the state legislature that one federal court called 'among the largest racial gerrymanders ever encountered by a federal court.' Sweeping voting restrictions passed by the legislature in 2013 suffered a similar fate, with a federal appeals court saying they targeted 'African Americans with nearly surgical precision.' The legislature's Republican supermajority hasn't fared any better in state courts, which have blocked GOP efforts to strip teachers of tenure and to prevent the state's Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, from appointing a majority of commissioners on state and local boards of elections". Pennsylvania Republicans have until tomorrow to redraw the map, but instead they have launched a campaign to fight the ruling.

"The ball is in our court", he said.

"The remedy of the court drawing their own maps is equally unconstitutional", said House Majority Whip Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster County).

"In the event that the General Assembly does not pass a fair map by the court ordered deadline, Governor Wolf will evaluate his options", Abbott said.

Those cases were appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which stayed the lower court rulings, pending hearings.

Ellis and Madonna both said that the Legislature's effort to get new maps done would have benefitted from a full opinion from the state Supreme Court explaining their rationale for rejecting the existing maps.

"It could be argued that it's unconstitutional, forcing this timetable on them", Gedid said.

That includes questions about how to balance the interests of creating compact districts against the interests of creating so-called minority-majority districts, meant to protect the voting interests of minority groups. "This is definitely going to reopen the discussion in other states".

As Ari Berman noted for Mother Jones, 14 voting-related laws passed by North Carolina's red-led state legislature have been overturned since 2011-when that state, like Pennsylvania, aggressively redrew political district lines to enshrine supermajority red delegations.

The level of potential confusion in a condensed process like the state is now moving through is going to be even greater than in a normal redistricting process that happens once a decade, he said. The districts that can't be used are the ones that involve questions of state law. For instance, in Pennsylvania, there are one million more Democrats than Republicans, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.

These lines serve only one objective: to dilute the votes of Democratic voters.

"What the court utterly fails to do", Dimino said, "is say how much dilution is too much". "Pennsylvania voters will now get to cast their ballots in fair elections this year".

"Indeed, it is hard to imagine how a district as Rorschachian and sprawling, which is contiguous in two locations only by virtue of a medical facility and a seafood/steakhouse, respectively, might plausibly be referred to as 'compact, '" wrote Todd.

"... I am troubled by the Majority's decision to strike down the 2011 congressional map on the eve of the 2018 midterm election". The first algorithm used traditional districting criteria only: population equality; contiguity; compactness; absence of splits within municipalities, unless necessary; and absence of splits within counties, unless necessary. After all, it's one of the most important jobs they've been tasked with in a long time.

"It's going to be unusual for me the next few weeks", Houlahan said of waiting on new boundaries.

"The five justices who signed this order that blatantly and clearly contradicts the plain language of the Pennsylvania Constitution engaged in misbehavior in office", GOP Rep. Cris Dush said in a letter to all Pennsylvania House members on Monday.

Republicans were elected to represent 13 congressional districts in the state, to only five for Democrats, despite there being 800,000 more registered Democrats in the state. In 2012, Democrats won 51 percent of the statewide popular U.S. House vote, but only 5 out of 18 House seats.

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