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Supreme Court Releases Majority Opinion in Redistricting Case

09 February 2018

As a result, the court has directed the state's legislature to draw a new set of maps that does not violate voters' Constitutional rights to free and equal elections.

On Feb. 4, in a desperate attempt to force the state Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling, Republican leaders accused two members of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court of "extreme bias" against the legislature, insisting that they should have never participated in the case.

In a 5-2 vote along party lines, the Democratic-controlled Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out the old map on January 22, ruling that the Republican-controlled legislature violated the state constitution by manipulating the lines to marginalize Democratic voters.

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. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito denied an emergency petition by top Republicans to stay the state court's decision.

The Pennsylvania fight is one of several across the United States over gerrymandering, in which lawmakers design legislative districts to weaken the power of the opposing party's voters.

Two days ahead of the deadline for the state legislature the state Supreme Court released the majority opinion detailing its new standard for Congressional maps in the state.

They contend that as a result of the Supreme Court remand order, the three-judge county in wake Count is "adequately positioned to rule immediately on ... remedial issues and order into effect a map that respects the state constitution".

The most famous of these is District 7, which has been likened to Goofy kicking Donald Duck. The district is held by Republican Patrick Meehan, who is retiring after reports that he settled a sexual harassment allegation. The plaintiffs in the longstanding case include the state NAACP, League of Women Voters of North Carolina, other groups and voters.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles rejected the request by Republican legislators, who last fall made a decision to cancel primary elections for all judgeships in 2018.

The House state government committee on Tuesday took the procedural step of moving a shell bill that could be amended with the language to create the new maps. He circulated a memo to House Republicans earlier this week calling for the impeachment of all five Democratic justices who voted to overturn the map.

"An election corrupted by extensive, sophisticated gerrymandering and partisan dilution of votes is not 'free and equal, '" wrote Justice Debra McCloskey Todd.

In the opinion, Todd notes that in recent years, there's been a vast disparity between the statewide voting in congressional races and the party breakdown of the state's congressional delegation.

"Drawn in an impartial way without using voter election data".

The opinion notes that the 2011 plan splits 28 of the state's 67 counties between more than one congressional district.

Wolf has announced that he has hired Moon Duchin, a math professor from Tufts University, to determine if the redrawn maps are nonpartisan enough to pass muster. "Because we have these new maps with better districts and because we have really energized candidates in a grassroots base, 2018 is looking to be the best year Democrats have had in quite a while", Meyer said.

Pennsylvania has always been seen by experts as one of the worst offenders.

The state Senate last week passed legislation that would serve as a vehicle into which map language can be inserted if an agreement can be reached, Corman said.

"...the Court's remedy threatens the separation of powers by failing to allow our sister branches sufficient time to legislate a new congressional districting map, potentially impinges upon the due process rights of the parties at bar as well as other interested parties, and foments unnecessary confusion in the current election cycle", wrote Baer. Currently, Pennsylvania Republicans hold 34 of 50 state Senate seats, a GOP-led majority that Dush told CNN he presumes will support the push for impeachment if the House approves it because "there's a mood over there" in the Senate to do the same.

Supreme Court Releases Majority Opinion in Redistricting Case