A political scientist serving as an expert for voters challenging Pennsylvania’s congressional districts testified Monday that “extreme partisan intent” by Republicans appears to have been the predominant factor in producing a map that has disproportionately favored GOP candidates. University of Michigan professor Jowei Chen said during the first day of a Commonwealth Court hearing over the 2011 maps that none of the hundreds of computer simulations he has run has produced a map so favorable to Republicans. In recent elections, Republicans have had a durable 13-5 advantage among the congressional delegation, and the lawsuit claims the maps are so partisan they violate the state constitution. “Whichever way you slice and dice the data, the enacted plan is a 13-5 Republican plan,” Chen said.
Commonwealth Judge Kevin Brobson is presiding over the trial that began Monday and could last all week. But Brobson will not decide the case. Instead, he said, he will produce proposed facts and legal conclusions to the state Supreme Court to use in resolving the case.
The lawsuit by a group of voters alleges violations of the state constitution’s free expression and association clauses by discriminating against the plaintiffs and other Democratic voters. They are seeking new maps for next year’s races.