Calling gerrymandering “one of the greatest threats to American democracy,” the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania sued Thursday to have the state’s congressional district map thrown out. Future maps, the suit urges, should be drawn without “burdening or penalizing an identifiable group, a political party, or individual voters based on their political beliefs.” Filed in Commonwealth Court on behalf of Democratic voters in each of the state’s 18 congressional districts, the complaint argues that the map, drafted in 2011, “was the product of a national movement by the Republican Party to entrench its own representatives in power.” The GOP did so, the suit argues, by “utilizing the latest advances in mapmaking technologies and big data to gerrymander districts more effectively than ever before.”
At a news conference Thursday, lawyers involved in the case said both parties engage in gerrymandering, the drawing of district boundaries to maximize political advantage. But they contended that a Republican-controlled legislature created blatantly partisan maps in 2011 that allowed the GOP to take 13 of 18 seats the next year while winning only about half of the ballots cast overall.
“The map is basically unresponsive to the will of the people,” said David P. Gersch, senior counsel at the Washington law firm of Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer. “When the Democrats are doing well, they get five seats; when the Democrats are doing poorly, they get five seats. It’s the same.”
Congressional districts in Pennsylvania are drawn by state legislators, who adopt a map as legislation and forward it to the governor, as with any other bill. After the 2010 election, Republicans controlled the governor’s mansion and both chambers of the legislature, giving them free rein.
Full Article: Groups sue Pa. over congressional district gerrymandering.