A lawyer for a group of Democratic voters in Pennsylvania told a federal court Monday that it should throw out the state’s congressional district map favoring Republican candidates because it was created to be “voter-proof.” Thomas Geoghehan noted that Pennsylvania is a swing state that supported both Barack Obama and Donald Trump for president. Control of power in the state has been topsy-turvy, alternating the party of governors, for instance, and electing U.S. senators from opposing parties. Under the previous map, congressional representation changed from election to election. But since 2012, Republicans have won 13 of the state’s 18 districts in each election — even in 2012, when more votes were cast for Democrats than Republicans in House races statewide.
“They took data from Democratic wave years to make sure that even if there are Democratic wave years, this entrenchment of power is going to hold,” Geoghehan said. He described the shape of one suburban Philadelphia district, as others have, as “Goofy kicking Donald Duck.”
His arguments came Monday in the first day of a trial over the state’s congressional map. The plaintiffs say the court should not allow either party to create districts to boost any political party. That makes the case different from other political gerrymandering cases — including one that the U.S. Supreme Court heard in October but has not yet ruled on. Generally, plaintiffs in this type of case ask courts to disallow too much political favoritism in mapmaking.