The Pennsylvania supreme court on Monday struck down the boundaries of the state’s 18 congressional districts, granting a major victory to plaintiffs who contended that they were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit Republicans. Republicans who controlled the legislature and governor’s office following the 2010 census broke decades of geographical precedent when redrawing the map, producing contorted shapes including one that critics said resembled “Goofy kicking Donald Duck”. They shifted whole counties and cities into different districts in an effort to protect a Republican advantage in the congressional delegation. They succeeded, securing 13 of 18 seats in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans five to four.
The Democratic-controlled court said the boundaries “clearly, plainly and palpably” violated the state’s constitution, and blocked the map from remaining in effect for the 2018 elections. The deadline to file paperwork to run in primaries for the seats is 6 March.
The court order gives the Republican-controlled state legislature until 9 February to pass a replacement and the Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, until 15 February to submit that replacement to the court. Otherwise, the justices say they will adopt a plan in an effort to keep the state’s 15 May primary election on track.
The decision means 14 sitting members of Congress and dozens more people are running or considering running in districts they may no longer live in.