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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules Congressional Map is A Partisan Gerrymander

by Countable | 3.9.18

What’s the story?

On Monday the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the state’s congressional district map was in violation of the state constitution as a partisan gerrymander, and ordered new maps drawn in three weeks. The February deadline allows the new maps to be used for the primaries leading up to the 2018 midterm elections.

If the state legislature does not succeed in drawing up new maps in time, the court will draw them. Final maps will be subject to a gubernatorial veto, but Democratic Governor Tom Wolf issued a statement expressing an intent to support the effort, reports the Washington Post:

"I strongly believe that gerrymandering is wrong and consistently have stated that the current maps are unfair to Pennsylvanians."

The state Republican party drew the maps following the 2010 Census and subsequently have controlled 13 out of 18 House seats, despite the electorate being fairly evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. They have vowed to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. Their efforts may be in vain, however, since the state Supreme Court ruled the gerrymander violated the state constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court may not see jurisdiction in the case.

The Supreme Court is in the midst of their own conversation about partisan gerrymandering, having heard a case, Gil v. Whitford, in the fall, which concerns the gerrymandering of state legislature districts in Wisconsin. That case may finally provide an objective measure for assessing partisan gerrymanders, which would be a landmark ruling. Their decision is expected in the spring.

Earlier in January, a federal court also threw out the congressional maps in North Carolina, citing partisan gerrymander in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The court had ordered the districts redrawn in time for the 2018 midterms, but the U.S. Supreme Court paused that timeline, so the midterms will still be subject to the Republican-drawn maps.

Who controls state legislatures largely controls who will draw new districting maps following the 2020 Census, meaning the impact of these court decisions will be felt for more than a decade.

What do you think?

Do you support efforts to undo partisan gerrymandering? Why or why not? Do you live in Pennsylvania, or one of the other states that have been subject to partisan gerrymanders? What do you think the impact will be of these court decisions in your state?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(83)
  • Sheryl
    01/23/2018
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    I’m ecstatic to see each States Supreme Court look at gerrymandering and come up with more realistic districts. This will help restore more fair elections.

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  • John
    01/23/2018
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    Partisan gerrymandering violates the Constitutional guarantee of equal representation. It dilutes on one hand, and inflates on the other the concept of “one person = one vote” by pooling voters into safe districts that stretch the definition of fair to the breaking point. Any government afraid to be elected fairly by it’s people should be fairly afraid of it’s people.

    Like (56)
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  • C
    01/23/2018
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    Gerrymandering merely reveals that those who use it are afraid they can not win elections fairly. If your ideas are so good let them compete on a level playing field.

    Like (38)
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  • Countryfirst
    01/23/2018
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    End Gerrymandering now..that's how we got the idiot lying money grubbing Rep Patrick McHenry I. Dist 10 NC..sick of it!!!

    Like (23)
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  • clayrosenthal
    01/23/2018
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    Wonderful news! Gerrymandering undermines are democratic republic and should be dismantled at every level

    Like (21)
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  • Sterling
    01/23/2018
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    Redistricting must be algorithmic to be fair and for the people. Create a fair equation and post it to the public so voters know they weren’t cheated out of their election.

    Like (16)
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  • David
    01/23/2018
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    Gerrymandering along with the citizens united decision are why our country is so out of whack. Add the electoral college and you have the perfect storm that led to Trump being president. The popular vote count proves the point. We have to keep chipping away and this poison. Thanks for standing up PA Supreme Court.

    Like (13)
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  • Sandra
    01/23/2018
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    We are taking back America inch by inch

    Like (13)
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  • Jacob
    01/23/2018
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    Excellent news!

    Like (13)
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  • Christine
    01/23/2018
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    YAY!!! What’s right and just prevails!

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  • Lexpost
    01/23/2018
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    A gerrymander is a distortion of democracy, a statement that ones party is more important than the state and by extension the entire nation. The parties have both shown their inability to honor the electorate and the representative districts need to be drawn by a fully independent commission, free of partisan demands. Voters should pick their leaders not the leaders picking their voters.

    Like (10)
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  • Edward
    01/23/2018
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    Outstanding!!! It doesn’t matter which Party it is, stealing fair representation must not stand.

    Like (9)
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  • James
    01/23/2018
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    If you can’t win, change the rules. Can’t do it by amending the Constitution? Aka, abolishing the electoral college.Then use political hacks in the courts to do it for you. Seems the Dems invented Gerrymandering, now suddenly they don’t like it. The hypocrisy smells to high heaven.

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  • Amy
    01/23/2018
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    My state, NY, has been gerrymandered in favor of republicans, too. It must be undone. The republicans have to accept that they are not the party of the people and don't reflect the majority of Americans' values. And if the districts reflect democratic ideas, then that's what they reflect. I am sick of all the clever, devious ways that republican operatives alter our democracy through gerrymandering, conservative news media who fabricate reality, elected officials who block and obstruct and then cry like children when they are blocked, who create term limits when they don't like the president and then talk about reinstating them when they don't and who now defend a diabolical, totalitarian leaning administration while we watch our democracy die. Enough. If there carving of districts is illegal, it's illegal.

    Like (7)
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  • Andrea
    01/23/2018
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    Alas some sense of reality & fair voting. I’m appalled this is allowed but happy it’s being cut back! We have to keep fighting to get our government on the right path. I’m not a Pennsylvania resident but we do have those issues in Georgia.

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  • Cindy
    01/23/2018
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    Wisconsin being considered by the Supreme Court, North Carolina already guilty... this is excellent news 👍💪👊👏👏

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  • Jeanne
    01/23/2018
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    Good. Let this only be the beginning. Politicians should not be able to pick their voters.

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  • Tooluser1
    01/23/2018
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    Bwahahaha! When a Democrat judge finds "gerrymandering" it generally means something approaching a fair election.

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  • gwenhutch
    01/24/2018
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    I'm happy to see gerrymandering to be looked into more as an issue. We need our districting to be representative of our people, not of special interests.

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  • Brian
    01/23/2018
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    Great the beginning of the end to partisan gerrymandering looks like the Republican Party is going to to find a new way to cheat to win and I strongly support a end to the use of gerrymandering here in Oklahoma also

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