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10 February 2018, 02:09 | Rufus Hill
Cris Dush. Youtube
The state's highest court gave the Republican-controlled legislature until Friday to submit a proposed replacement to Wolf, who has until February 15 to approve the boundaries and submit the map to the court. By drawing congressional districts that significantly reduced Democrats' power relative to their numbers, the Republican-held legislature prevented Democratic voters from enjoying free and equal elections, the Court held.
The court set a standard for new Congressional maps as "neutral criteria of compactness, contiguity, minimization of the division of political subdivisions, and maintenance of population equality among congressional districts...provide a "floor" of protection for an individual against the dilution of his or her vote in the creation of such districts".
Pennsylvania, long seen as one of the worst offenders, has several bizarrely shaped districts, earning derisive descriptors like "Goofy Kicking Donald Duck". In the lawsuit, the League of Women Voters had argued that the maps packed Democrats into districts so that their influence statewide would be diluted.
The constitution that served as the basis of the Court's opinion was Pennsylvania's constitution, which contains a "free and equal elections" clause, and pre-dates the U.S. Constitution by ten years.
But the threat of a judicial coup to preserve political power also appears to be an emerging strategy Republican-gerrymandered states are using to preserve their power.
A full opinion released by the Supreme Court late Wednesday didn't do much to move the ball forward as far as clarity is concerned, said Michael Dimino, a law professor at Widener Law Commonwealth.
As Ari Berman noted for Mother Jones, 14 voting-related laws passed by North Carolina's red-led state legislature have been overturned since 2011-when that state, like Pennsylvania, aggressively redrew political district lines to enshrine supermajority red delegations. Crompton also said that the court is positioning itself to usurp the legislature's role in drawing maps.
Relying on expert testimony, the court found that the lack of compactness among all districts and the level of packing observed in Democratic ones couldn't be explained by other factors, like the natural tendency of Democratic voters to cluster in cities.
A partisan gerrymandering case is now before the US Supreme Court, said Chris Ellis, Bucknell University associate professor of political science.
That advantage has been despite the fact that Democrats outnumber Republicans in Pennsylvania.
A more pragmatic approach that would have been more fair to candidates, voters and both parties would have been applying new maps to the 2020 elections.
They haven't decided if the map submission will be made public.
Wolf has announced that he has hired Moon Duchin, a math professor from Tufts University, to determine if the redrawn maps are nonpartisan enough to pass muster.
The new mapping will help ensure each one of us has an equal voice into who is elected. Another portion traces Pennsylvania's history, at one point quoting a delegate to the 1873 Constitutional Convention.
"The desire is to have legislation", he said.
Some of the Congressional boundaries need to be redrawn.
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