New congressional map: Behind the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's redrawing
Feb 25 2018 by Kristina Bennett
Wednesday'sfilingargued the state's top court failed to provide lawmakers with enough time or guidance to draw a new map before it stepped in and took over the process, usurping the legislature's constitutional authority to set congressional district lines. The immediate analysis was that the new lines would enable Democrats to take over two Republican-held seats in the Philadelphia suburbs and, conceivably, a couple more elsewhere in the state. That will continue to be my priority as I run for re-election this fall, to keep representing a district that I am still blessed to call home. The New York Times' Nate Cohn tweeted that "Democrats get everything they want", while Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman labeled it "Democrats' dream come true".
When Clinton County residents woke up on Monday morning, they were in a different congressional district. Smeltz said he believes it is not the court's job to redraw congressional districts-it is the legislature's job.
"While judicial activism by a state supreme court would ordinarily be beyond this court's purview", the leaders" attorneys concede in their stay request, "the questions of what does and does not constitute a "legislative function' under the elections clause is a question of federal, not state law, and this court is the arbiter of that distinction".
The five Democrats on the stateSupreme Court sided with Democratic voters who challenged the map, although one of the Democratic justices, Max Baer, has pointedly opposed the compressed timetable.
Elections do matter, and the election that may have mattered the most here is the 2015 statewide judicial election that handed the state Supreme Court to the Democrats 5-2.
Next week, candidates will begin circulating nominating petitions for the May primary.
The state Supreme Court, after declaring that the 2011 congressional maps were illegally gerrymandered, had ordered the Republican-controlled Legislature to come up with new maps that met the approval of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf by February 15. Republicans already used the same reasoning before the U.S. Supreme Court in January when asking the high court to step in and block the state court's order for a new map.
"These new remedial maps mean fairness for the voters of Pennsylvania, who have always been subject to outsized Republican representation due to gerrymandering", Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee communications director Meredith Kelly said.
It's hard to feel bad for the Republicans, who drew a bad-faith map in 2011 and eventually got their comeuppance for doing so. "The map is now no longer illegal gerrymandered and allows everyone in Pennsylvania a more representative and proportional vote", Friedenberg said. Now, with the court's decision, that number in the state has conceivably expanded to somewhere from three to five, even six. They also see improved Democratic prospects in the eastern Pennsylvania seat of retiring Republican Charlie Dent. Outside redistricting experts who were not involved with the case praised the new map, calling it "fairer" and "much more competitive" than the old one.
The map removes the heart of one district from Philadelphia, where a crowd of candidates had assembled to replace the retiring Democratic Rep.
Whatever the US Supreme Court decides will be closely watched by the whole country, as the court's new map gives Democrats a shot at as many as four new seats in Congress-a change with the potential to tip the balance of power in Washington.