The United States Supreme Court on Monday refused to stop Pennsylvania’s highest court from requiring lawmakers there to redraw the state’s congressional map, which the state court had found to be marred by partisan gerrymandering. The Supreme Court’s order was expected, as the Pennsylvania court had based its decision solely on the state constitution. On matters of state law, the judgments of state supreme courts are typically final. The order, which gave no reasons, came from Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who acted without referring the case to the full court. The Supreme Court has been busy lately addressing cases on partisan gerrymandering, in which the party in power draws voting districts to give its candidates lopsided advantages. It is considering two such cases, from Wisconsin and Maryland, and has intervened in a third one, from North Carolina. But all of those cases were decided by federal courts.
The latest decision, from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, struck down the state’s congressional map, saying it “clearly, plainly and palpably” violated the state’s Constitution. The court told state lawmakers to redraw the state’s 18 House districts, which currently favor Republicans, and it left open the possibility that it would impose its own map.
Under the current map, Republicans control 13 of those 18 seats. Election law experts say that a nonpartisan map could move as many as three of those seats to Democrats and increase that party’s chances of regaining control of the House in the midterm elections this fall.