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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Throws out Congressional District Boundaries, Orders Them Redrawn

23 January 2018

The decision by the Pennsylvania court comes just a week after the U.S. Supreme Court delayed a lower court order in North Carolina that would have forced that state to redraw its congressional district as well.

The 4-3 ruling was issued Monday in response to a lawsuit.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday struck down the limits of the state's 18 congressional locale, saying they disregard the state constitution and conceding a noteworthy triumph to a gathering of Democratic voters who contended the regions were illegally gerrymandered to profit Republicans.

The judges gave state lawmakers only until February 9 to draw up a new map, with the governor having only until February 15 to submit it to the court, which will draw its own map if the state fails to make its deadline.

Crompton said the Legislature would begin working on a new map pending a possible stay to the state's decision.

In the decision, the majority justices found that the map "clearly, plainly and palpably violate the Constitution" of the state.

"We won the entire thing", said David Gersch of the Arnold and Porter Kaye Scholer law office in Washington, D.C., which is speaking to the gathering of enlisted Democrats who recorded the claim last June.

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That decision, of course, applies only to the state's 18 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and not to state legislative districts. They said that's always been the case and that the state law allows it.

But the legal challenge, filed by the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, relied on the state Constitution, not the U.S. Constitution, and lawyers for the plaintiffs said the U.S. Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over the case.

A new map could give Democratic candidates a chance to capture as many as half a dozen Republican seats in Pennsylvania alone, with national polls showing voters strongly favoring Democrats in 2018.

Opponents of the map argued the state legislature violated the state's constitution by drawing House districts to expressly benefit Republicans.

The case split the Pennsylvania Supreme Court largely along partisan lines. On a new map, however, it could become much more Democratic-leaning. The court said in its order that that race will proceed under the old congressional map.

Four of the Pennsylvania high court's seven justices said the new map must be ready for the state's May 15 primaries, though not for a March 13 special election that pits Democrat Conor Lamb against Republican Rick Saccone for a seat vacated by Republican Tim Murphy.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Throws out Congressional District Boundaries, Orders Them Redrawn