State Supreme Court votes PA’s congressional map needs to be redrawn

Pennsylvania Democrats welcomed the news that the map, which gained national attention for the way it was drawn, will now have to be redone

Pennsylvania congressional map

(WYTV) – On Monday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the state’s congressional map is the result of gerrymandering, to the point that it violates the state constitution.

In a 4 to 3 vote, the court ordered that the state draw a new congressional map ahead of the 2018 midterms.

It took the court less than five days to rule on Pennsylvania’s congressional map. Last Wednesday, it heard oral arguments over whether the map — drawn by Republicans in 2011 — violates the state constitution.

“These gerrymandered districts, it’s political chicanery gone wild and thank God the court recognized that,” Lt. Gov. Mike Stack said.

PA Democrats welcomed the news that the map, which gained national attention for the way it was drawn seven years ago, will now have to be redone.

According to Grove City College Political Science Professor Michael Coulter, in one sense…

“This could be a political earthquake that’s felt not only in Pennsylvania, but has national ramifications.”

Since the map was drawn, Republicans have won 13 of the state’s 18 congressional districts in three straight elections — despite the state being fairly evenly split among parties.

“So you have this very significant imbalance,” Coulter said.

That means areas like the 12th Congressional District, which wraps around the city of Pittsburgh and includes Beaver and Lawerence counties, must be redrawn.

“Once it gets redrawn, it affects other districts and in the end, every district needs to have almost the same number of people in it. So once you start shifting one district, it affects all the others,” Coulter said.

That could very easily affect the May primaries.

“It may not change the date of the primaries, but it could put a shift in when the petitions are circulated,” Coulter said.

GOP leaders now plan to seek a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I think it will take a couple days to work on that paperwork but I would suspect by the end of the week, there will be a stay in front of the U.S. Supreme Court,” Atty. Dave Crompton said.

Rep. Mike Kelly (R, 3rd District) released the following statement Monday night:

Today’s misguided decision by the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court is an unfortunate example of the judicial branch inserting itself into the core functions of the legislative branch. Today’s congressional maps were drafted and approved by both Republicans and Democrats. It also comes on the eve of a midterm election. An orderly electoral process is an essential function of our democracy.”

Lawmakers have until February 9 to redraw the map, then Governor Tom Wolf has less than a week to approve it. If the deadline isn’t met, the court will adopt its own plan.

Coulter also said this case might not actually have a national impact because it relies entirely on Pennsylvania state constitutional language and is not a federal case.