Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa and House Minority Leader Frank Dermody said Sunday that they would oppose a GOP lawsuit to be heard Monday in federal court in Philadelphia. The GOP is seeking an injunction to halt use of out-of-date election maps in the primary for the state’s 203 state House districts and 50 Senate districts. After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court invalidated a new redistricting plan, calling it unconstitutional, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, a Delaware County Republican, floated the possibility of moving the primary so a commission could create new redistricting maps.
The Republicans argue that the U.S. Supreme Court’s one-person, one-vote ruling requires a remapping after every decennial census so that all districts are about the same size in population. Clifford Levine, a lawyer representing Costa and Dermody, said he would move to dismiss the GOP action. Costa, Dermody, and Pileggi – along with House Majority Leader Mike Turzai – are members of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission.
The Democrats argue that the primary campaign is already under way. Rather than delay the primary, they said, the old maps should be used – something that two state Supreme Court justices suggested might be necessary. “They [the GOP] should not be able to hijack this election,” Costa said in a conference call with reporters. “The court was very clear in its opinion. We have to respect and honor that.” Said Levine: “Federal courts have indicated that the states should be given deference in developing redistricting plans, and that a federal court should not interfere with an impending election, particularly where there is no other plan yet available.”