US Supreme Court Dismisses Attempt To Block New Pa. Congressional Map

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Court Rulings End GOP Efforts to Block Voting Map for Pennsylvania

20 March, 2018

On Monday afternoon, the Supreme Court handed Democrats a major victory in the party's attempt to retake the House this November, turning aside an appeal by Pennsylvania Republicans that would have kept the state's new congressional map from being in effect for the coming primary and general elections in the Keystone State.

The Supreme Court announced, "the application for stay presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the Court is denied".

"I applaud these decisions that will allow the upcoming election to move forward with the new and fair congressional maps", Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in a statement.

The case arose from a lawsuit filed last summer by 18 registered Democrat voters and the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, who alleged that partisan cutting of the Congressional lines after the 2010 census amounted to "viewpoint discrimination" against Democratic voters. "The Plaintiffs' frustration with the process by which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court implemented its own redistricting map is plain", the judges said.

Under a new map drawn by a nonpartisan expert and adopted by Democratic justices of Pennsylvania's elected supreme court, analysts say Republicans start with an edge in 10 of the 18 districts.

The U.S. Supreme Court deliberated almost two weeks before turning down the request to stop the map from being used in this fall's elections.

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The three-judge panel ruled that the Republicans had no standing to make their argument. Judge Christopher Conner and Judge Kent Jordan were chosen for the federal bench by President George W. Bush, while Judge Jerome Simandle was nominated by President George H.W. Bush.

Both challenges were filed last month by Republican lawmakers who argued that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which has a Democratic majority, overstepped its bounds when it threw out the old congressional map and imposed the new one.

"In short, the Plaintiffs invite us to opine on the appropriate balance of power between the Commonwealth's legislature and judiciary in redistricting matters, and then to pass judgment on the propriety of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's actions under the United States Constitution", they wrote.

President Trump weighed in on Twitter on February 20, urging Pennsylvania Republicans to fight the case all the way to the Supreme Court. The new map is expected to bring that number closer to the parity that would be expected in the state.

In statements, Republican legislative leaders in Pennsylvania said they were disappointed by the rulings but reiterated their belief that the state Supreme Court had usurped the legislature's role. "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". That appeal could go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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.

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