In 2012, Pennsylvania voters backed Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by a 5.4 percent margin — and Republicans won 13 of the state’s 18 congressional races. This did not happen because Obama won large numbers of ticket-splitting conservative voters, but rather, because Keystone State Republicans had drafted one of the most spectacularly biased congressional maps in a nation in full of them. A little over a week ago, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that said map “clearly, plainly and palpably” violated the state constitution. Now, a leader of the state’s Republican Party is refusing to comply with a court order related to that ruling — on the grounds that his interpretation of Pennsylvania’s constitution overrides that of the state Supreme Court.
In its ruling, the court ordered the legislature to draw new congressional districts “composed of compact and contiguous territory,” stipulating the final map must not “divide any county, city, incorporated town, borough, township, or ward, except where necessary to ensure equality of population.” The judges gave lawmakers until February 9 to get the new districts drawn, and the governor until February 15 to give them his seal of approval.
Should the state’s elected leaders fail to meet any of those deadlines, in the interest of ensuring that the 2018 elections aren’t fought on unconstitutional terrain, the judges ruled that “this Court shall proceed expeditiously to adopt a plan based on the evidentiary record developed in the Commonwealth Court.”
Days after issuing this ruling, the court ordered the legislature to turn over data files “that contain the current boundaries of all Pennsylvania municipalities and precincts,” along with reports demonstrating that the legislature’s replacement maps meet all legally mandated requirements.
Full Article: Pennsylvania GOP Defies Anti-Gerrymandering Court Order.