Pennsylvania can keep its congressional map, a judicial panel in Philadelphia ruled Wednesday, rejecting an argument from a group of Democratic voters who contended it should be thrown out because the state lawmakers who created the map in 2011 gerrymandered it to help Republicans. The court cast aside the argument that districts should not consider politics, saying partisanship is part of the system. “The task of prescribing election regulations was given, in the first instance, to political actors who make decisions for political reasons,” Circuit Court Judge D. Brooks Smith wrote in the majority opinion in the case. “Plaintiffs ignore this reality.” The ruling came a day after a court threw out North Carolina’s congressional map, finding it went too far to help Republicans.
The 2-1 ruling in the Pennsylvania case is the latest in a spate of recent lawsuits on gerrymandering — including three in Pennsylvania alone — brought as Democrats try to win the U.S. House of Representatives this year and establish new ground rules for the next round of redistricting after results are in from the 2020 census.
Courts have found in the past that it’s wrong to make maps to limit the voices of racial minorities. The latest cases focus on a different issue: Whether it’s OK to draw district lines to help — or hurt — political parties.