Published: Sat, February 10, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

GOP leaders say they're submitting congressional map

GOP leaders say they're submitting congressional map

Senate Republican Leader Jake Corman says he's had "zero" discussions with legislative leaders about new district boundaries, can't guarantee he will meet the deadline, and doesn't know whether House Republican leaders are interested in drawing a new map! The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania comes only two days before the deadline imposed by the January 22 order for the state legislature to submit a new redistricting plan to Governor Tom Wolf [official website]. "By focusing on these state and local races, we can ensure Democrats who will fight for fairness have a seat at the table when new maps are drawn in 2021".

"Given the exigent circumstance of the upcoming elections" the plaintiffs say, they are willing to defer proceedings with respect to other state legislative districts they are challenging on the basis of their violating the so-called "whole county provision" of the constitution that says states should avoid splitting up counties as they draw election district lines.

Before the redistricting decision, Democrats had zeroed in on six Pennsylvania congressional districts out of 91 they are targeting nationwide.

House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D., Allegheny) said Friday evening that Democrats in the chamber "had no role" in creating the map. "A broad and robust interpretation of Article I, Section 5 serves as a bulwark against the adverse consequences of partisan gerrymandering".

Redistricting expert Jowei Chen of the University of MI testified that he created 500 computer-drawn district maps optimized for Pennsylvania's traditional redistricting criteria of compactness, contiguity and equal population.

In the Senate, Scarnati has said to share data meant to help the justices draw a map, and a rank-and-file Republican lawmaker is seeking cosponsors the court's Democratic justices.

Justice Debra McCloskey Todd wrote the 139-page majority opinion.

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

These efforts accelerated after conservative majority on the state supreme court tipped to a Democratic majority in 2016, with the election of Mike Morgan.

In the event that an agreement is made, Wolf would need to approve the map no later than February 15.

"I think there are legitimate federal questions", he said. On Monday, the high court said it would not hear the case.

By drawing districts in this way, Pennsylvania Republicans "interfere [D] to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage" under the Pennsylvania state Constitution. An appeal in state court will determine the ultimate fate of those districts, but for this November's election, they will revert to the versions drawn by General Assembly in 2017. "Indeed, for our form of government to operate as intended, each and every Pennsylvania voter must have the same free and equal opportunity to select his or her representatives".

Although the court acknowledged that federal courts have not been able to decide on a manageable standard for when partisan gerrymandering crosses a line and becomes unconstitutional under federal law, the opinion found that's not a barrier for state law.

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. Chief Justice Thomas Saylor and Justice Sallie Mundy - the only Republicans - filed separate dissents. It's the latest turn in the years-long saga about the maps voters use to choose candidates - maps the courts decided were drawn by Republicans to dilute African-American voting power. 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. That's because the issue is a state issue, particularly a provision in the state constitution that prohibits redistricting during the middle of decade, the lawyers contend.

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