Voting-rights advocates in Pennsylvania filed suit on Thursday to nullify the state’s congressional-district map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, joining other court battles over the role of politics in redistricting already being waged in three other states. It is the latest major legal effort arguing that gerrymanders have become so egregious they are subverting democracy and creating legislative races with predetermined results. In a tactical twist, however, the Pennsylvania lawsuit was filed in a state court, which means that if the plaintiffs prevail, the ruling would set no precedent for challenges in other states. The three other lawsuits, in Maryland, North Carolina and Wisconsin, were filed in federal court and argue that the maps of congressional or state legislative districts violate the federal Constitution.
… The suit contends that the Republican-controlled state legislature redrew congressional district boundaries in 2011 with the aim of creating as many unassailable Republican House seats as possible. Pennsylvania has five registered Democrats for every four registered Republicans, but Republicans control 13 of the 18 congressional districts.
The lawsuit noted that Republicans captured those 13 seats in 2012, in the first election after the boundaries were redrawn, even though they won only 49 percent of the vote statewide.