Redraw court-ordered district maps

Demonstrators gather outside of The United States Supreme Court during an oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford to call for an end to partisan gerrymandering

Redraw court-ordered district maps

Pennsylvania lawmakers are approaching a court-imposed deadline to redraw the state's map of congressional districts that was thrown out on grounds it unfairly helped Republicans.

It's unclear how much attention will be given to this map when all is said and done, but Democratic Gov. Wolf has hinted that he thinks it would be optimal to work with his colleagues across the political aisle to submit something to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, calling a "consensus map" an "ideal scenario".

On Jan. 22 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered lawmakers to redraw the map by this Friday, giving Wolf, a Democrat, until February 15 to approve it.

In the ruling, authored by Justice Debra Todd, cites Article I, Section 5 of the state Constitution as the justification for the court throwing out the 2011 maps.

"The Pennsylvania State Constitution, which was the basis of the recent state Supreme Court decision, says that government entities or political entities are to be divided as little as possible", said Robert Speel, Ph.D., associate professor of political science at Penn State, The Behrend College.

The case stems from a lawsuit filed previous year by the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and several Democratic voters challenging the map under the state constitution's equal protection and free speech guarantees. Well, they had the audacity to rule that Pennsylvania's heavily gerrymandered congressional maps had to be redrawn in a less partisan fashion.

Corman noted that the state Supreme Court has hired an expert from California, Nathaniel Persily, from Stanford Law School, to assist in their efforts to come up with new maps if the Legislature fails to provide them with one to review.

J.J. Abbott, a spokesman for Wolf, declined to say whether the governor would accept a redrawn map from the Legislature if it's not done by Friday. "There are some nice, objective guideposts that people have now, and it's very clear that you can't go to town and do things like the Pennsylvania Seventh [District] anymore".

Partisan gerrymandering has resulted in political gridlock. They want those districts in and around Charlotte and Raleigh returned to their shapes as originally drawn in 2011.

The party needs to capture 24 seats nationwide to retake control of the House in November elections.

In her dissenting opinion, Justice Sallie Updyke Mundy disagreed with the majority's logic and with the court-ordered remedy. He also criticized the court for releasing its full opinion only two days before the impending deadline for lawmakers. "I don't know", Yaw said. It is axiomatic that a diluted vote is not an equal vote, as all voters do not have an equal opportunity to translate their votes into representation.

"This decision is a victory for the voters of Pennsylvania who would have been required to vote in a fourth election under an illegal partisan gerrymander had the Court sided with the defendants", Flynn said.

But it's also extremely unlikely that those decisions will be handed down in time to stop this move to redo the congressional maps for the 2018 elections, he said.

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.

A special master was appointed by the court when the General Assembly's redrawn maps failed to correct problems in some districts.

A lawyer for Republican lawmaker said appellate court primaries should be cancelled, too, because legislators could put on the ballot this May a statewide referendum that would change how those judges and justices are selected. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable.

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