April 24, 2018

Double defeat for challenge to new Congressional map

20 March 2018, 04:20 | Simon Arnold

The Supreme Court Rejects The GOP's Bid To Keep Gerrymandered Congressional Voting Maps For The 2018 Election

Court Rulings End GOP Efforts to Block Voting Map for Pennsylvania

The U.S. Supreme Court, as expected, has rejected the Pennsylvania GOP's challenge to the state court's redistricting ruling. The argument that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stepped on the legislature's rights should be brought by the General Assembly as an institution, they wrote.

This doesn't guarantee a win for the state's Democratic party in these new districts, of course.

"I want to thank every citizen who spoke out in favor of fair maps and against partisan gerrymandering".

In their decision the judges - Circuit Judge Kent Jordan, District Judge Christopher Conner, and District Judge Jerome Simandle - said the plaintiffs didn't have standing to make the appeal so they declined to even consider the merits of their complaint. The GOP has been fighting the court order ever since and the U.S. Supreme Court denied an early request to put a stay on the map. Judge Christopher Conner and Judge Kent Jordan were chosen for the federal bench by President George W. Bush, while Judge Jerome Simandle was nominated by President George H.W. Bush.

Pennsylvania's GOP has been dealt a string of blows over the last few months, starting with losing a gerrymandering case in the state Supreme Court and, last week, losing one of its heavily gerrymandered congressional seats to a Democratic candidate. Since the old map's implementation in 2011, Republicans have won 13 out of Pennsylvania's 18 districts, despite never gaining more than 55 percent of the vote.

When Pennsylvania lawmakers and the Democratic governor didn't agree on a new map, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its own map, drawn with the help of a Stanford law professor.

Republicans have another appeal of the decision now pending at the United States Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to stay that order on February 5.

At issue was a map put in place by Republicans at the state level in Pennsylvania following the 2010 census.

The state Supreme Court had just a month earlier tossed out the previous congressional map, saying it was created to favor Republicans and violated the state constitution.

Then there is the broader import of the Supreme Court declining to hear the redistricting appeal by Pennsylvania Republicans. Six incumbents, five of them Republicans, have said they will not be on the fall ballot.

The broader point here is two-fold: 1) This is a major win for Democrats hoping to retake the House majority this November and 2) If the Court ultimately decides that extreme partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional, it will have a profound effect on how maps gets drawn - and who controls the House majority - in 2021 and beyond.

"If the ice cream's melting on the dot, you have Justice Alito considering the...request", Chief U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner said during the hearing.

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