The Pennsylvania Supreme Court turned away a request to halt the implementation of the congressional district map it produced after declaring the previous map an unconstitutional gerrymander. The court issued the order Tuesday afternoon, simply stating that the request for a stay, led by House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, is denied. The decision was not unexpected. Following the same fault lines as in other rulings in the case, Democratic justices Debra Todd, Christine Donohue, Kevin Dougherty and David Wecht had the majority, while Democratic Justice Max Baer and Republicans Chief Justice Thomas Saylor and Sallie Mundy dissented. Legal challenges to the map remain a live issue in the federal 3rd Circuit in Harrisburg and in the U.S. Supreme Court, however.
There was little drama to the state Supreme Court’s order, which followed its Jan. 22 ruling that the previous map of 18 congressional districts was drawn to produce a large majority of Republican winners. Three days later, the state’s highest court denied Turzai and Scarnati’s first request for a stay of its decision.
With Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the state’s Republican legislative leadership unable to agree on a redrawn map, the court produced its own map on Feb. 19. Turzai and Scarnati appealed that map on Feb. 22, leading to the order Tuesday.
The order ends this legal effort to stop the new map, with the focus now left on federal courts. Meanwhile, congressional candidates and their supporters, using district boundaries in the new maps, have begun collecting the signatures necessary to get on the May 15 primary ballot.