Judges have been asked repeatedly to decide whether the lawmakers in charge of drawing congressional district lines have gone too far to favour their parties. A group of Democratic voters from Pennsylvania is approaching the issue in a different way, asserting it’s wrong for the congressional map to be made to boost one party — at all. The case is scheduled to be tried starting this week before a three-judge federal panel. The potential fallout is immense in a state where Republicans have consistently controlled 13 of 18 congressional seats even though statewide votes for congressional candidates are usually divided nearly evenly between Republicans and Democrats. A victory for the plaintiffs could mean a quick redrawing of districts before the 2018 midterm elections and could establish new rules for how congressional districts are remade after the 2020 census.
An appeal of the verdict would go straight to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is already weighing another closely watched partisan gerrymandering case out of Wisconsin.
The Pennsylvania suit is one of three current challenges to the congressional districts Pennsylvania lawmakers approved in 2011. A trial in one of the other cases is scheduled for state court starting Dec. 11.