The Supreme Court refused Monday to block a new election map for Pennsylvania that gives Democrats a chance to win four or more congressional seats in November. The justices turned down a second and final appeal from Pennsylvania’s Republican leaders, who defended the gerrymandered districts that had given them a steady 13-5 advantage over the Democrats for years. The new map gives Democrats a good chance to win half of the 18 House seats. Last week, they celebrated picking up a Republican seat when Conor Lamb claimed victory in a special election for a seat in southwestern Pennsylvania. Republicans have not conceded that race as final provisional ballots are counted. Lamb and all other candidates will run this fall in districts that have been redrawn.
The Supreme Court acted Monday afternoon shortly after a panel of three federal judges in Harrisburg, Pa., refused to block the new election map drawn at the behest of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In late January, the state justices ruled the gerrymandered map drawn in 2011 was unduly partisan and denied voters their right to a free and equal election. They chose Stanford Law professor Nate Persily to draw a new election map with districts that were more compact.
Having lost in the state courts, Republican leaders of the state legislature tried two last-minute appeals in the federal courts. They sued in Harrisburg, arguing the state judges had overstepped their power. But the three judges — all Republican appointees — decided the state legislators did not speak for the legislature as a whole and did not have standing to sue.