Court Rulings End GOP Efforts to Block Voting Map for Pennsylvania

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The announcement of the court's decision came less than two hours before the U.S. Supreme Court refused to enter a stay in a similar case that had been requested by Republican leaders in the state House and Senate. The latest request was referred to the full court and there were no noted dissents.

The Pennsylvania case is Turzai v. League of Women Voters, 17A909.

"I applaud these decisions that will allow the upcoming election to move forward with the new and fair congressional maps", he said.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, D, praised the courts. Nor do the congressmen have proper standing, they said.

Both Meredith and Goldfeder agree that this case may set a precedent for gerrymandering suits to be considered under state law instead of federal law, though this may depend on the outcome of several cases now in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Under the new map, all of Lehigh and Northampton counties, as well as southern Monroe County, will be in the 7th Congressional District.

Republicans were seeking to preserve the map under which they consistently won 13 of the state's 18 House seats ― despite getting only about 50 percent of the total statewide vote in these contests and trailing Democrats in Pennsylvania's voter registration.

The three-judge panel issued its decision with just one day left for the state's congressional candidates to circulate petitions to get on the May 15 primary ballot. A three-judge panel threw out a separate Republican lawsuit earlier Monday.

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The court ruled in January the current districts violated the state's constitution. "As far as we can tell on this record, the Elections Clause claims asserted in the verified complaint belong, if they belong to anyone, only to the Pennsylvania General Assembly". "The Plaintiffs' frustration with the process by which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court implemented its own redistricting map is plain", the judges wrote. He called on the state Legislature to begin impeachment proceedings against those on the high court who had voted in favor of the redistricting and redrew the map, "behind closed doors".

Republicans challenged the ruling saying the constitution gives lawmakers the job of drawing districts, not courts.

The new districts are thought to favor the Democratic party, and Penn political science professor Marc Meredith said that previous estimates and the new districts may benefit Democrats in PA during the 2018 midterms. A formal campaign announcement could come later this week, ending speculation in the media that he would drop his re-election bid.

The federal judges' decision comes in a case brought a month ago by eight sitting Republican congressmen and two GOP state senators. They pointed to Article I, Section 4 of the United States Constitution, which says that the times, places and manners of congressional elections "shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof".

The denial of the latest application, like the denial of the earlier one, was unsurprising because the Pennsylvania court had based its rulings exclusively on the state Constitution. That is now not going to happen.

According to the Washington Post, the case "suggests a new mode of attack" in partisan gerrymandering cases that uses state constitutions to challenge voting maps. It's more bad news for Republicans.

The Supreme Court appeal was filed by February 27 the Republican leaders of the state House and Senate.The legal disputes are lingering even as candidates are in the final stages of collecting petitions to get on the ballot for the May 15 primary.