In a case that could force the redrawing of congressional maps before the 2018 elections, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Thursday ordered the Commonwealth Court to decide a gerrymandering lawsuit by the end of the year. “We will have our day in court, and we will get a decision and a resolution of this matter in time for the 2018 election,” said Mimi McKenzie, the legal director of Philadelphia-based Public Interest Law Center, which represents the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania in the case. If the districts are, in fact, redrawn before next year’s midterm elections, the result could have national implications. New districts could give Democrats a boost in competitive, Republican-held districts just outside Philadelphia as they push to take control of the U.S. House. “It’s something that has broad national implications,” said Michael Li, senior redistrict counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.
The high court’s 4-3 vote overturned a decision by Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pelligrini, who last month ordered a stay in the league’s suit pending a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a similar case out of Wisconsin.
But the league asked the state high court to fast-track the case. In agreeing to do so Thursday, the court employed a power it rarely used. “They reserve it for cases that are of great public importance,” McKenzie said. “This is exactly the kind of case that’s meant for the Supreme Court to exercise extraordinary jurisdiction.”