All Pennsylvania Congressional Districts Struck Down

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January 23, 2018

Pennsylvania's Legislature has until February 15 to come up with a replacement for the state's congressional map, in the wake of the state's Supreme Court striking down the boundaries for all 18 congressional districts.

Pennsylvania congressional districts

The 5-2 decision included a proviso that the state high court would take it on itself to put a plan in place for the May 15 primary elections if the Legislature did not meet its timeline and Gov. Tom Wolf did not sign the bill into law.

The political affiliations of the Governor and of the majority of the members of Legislature are relevant to what happens next: Wolf is a Democrat, and Republicans hold a majority of the Legislature.

The state high court ruled that the boundaries were constitutionally impermissible examples of gerrymandering, the redrawing of congressional boundaries to benefit one group over another. In this case, the state high court found, the Republican-held Legislature redrew the state's congressional district boundaries with the express intent to favor Republicans and to disenfranchise Democrats.

Republicans, who created the new districts in 2011 following the results of the 2010 U.S. Census, have appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The finding was entirely in examining the state constitution, however, and the High Court does not usually intervene in such cases.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments not long ago in a case of gerrymandering from Wisconsin and also recently put a stay on a federal District Court ruling that ordered the North Carolina state government to review its congressional district boundaries.

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David White