President Donald Trump wants Pennsylvania Republicans to fight the implementation of a court-drawn congressional map that threatens a half-dozen GOP-held seats this November, but most operatives and experts see little hope in a legal challenge to the new districts. Republicans in Harrisburg and Washington say they’re moving ahead with legal action to stop the new map. But, behind the scenes, Republican consultants are already urging their clients to get ready for these new districts in 2018. “I’m advising my clients to prepare for the worst-case scenario: that these are the maps this year,” said Mark Harris, a Republican consultant based in Pennsylvania.
Republicans will file suit to block the new map of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts as soon as Wednesday, officials said. Matt Gorman, communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Tuesday state and federal officials “will sue in federal court as soon as tomorrow to prevent the new partisan map from taking effect.” Top Senate Republican lawyer Drew Crompton said Monday a separation of powers case will form the essence of the GOP’s argument, according to The Associated Press. Republicans again will argue the U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures and governors, not courts, the power to draw congressional boundaries, AP reported.
The morning John Kennedy was set to testify last December, he woke up at 1:30 am, in an unfamiliar hotel room in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, adrenaline coursing through his veins. He’d never gone to court before for anything serious, much less taken the stand. Some time after sunrise, he headed to the courthouse, dressed in a gray Brooks Brothers suit, and spent the next several hours reviewing his notes and frantically pacing the halls. “I think I made a groove in the floor,” Kennedy says. By 3:30 pm, it was finally time. Kennedy’s answers started off slowly, as he worked to steady his nerves. Then, about an hour into his testimony, Exhibit 81 flashed on a screen inside the courtroom. It was a map of part of Pennsylvania’s seventh congressional district, but it might as well have been a chalk outline of a body. “It was like a crime scene,” explains Daniel Jacobson, an attorney for Arnold & Porter, which represented the League of Women Voters in its bid to overturn Pennsylvania’s 2011 electoral map, drawn by the state’s majority Republican General Assembly. The edges of the district skitter in all manner of unnatural directions, drawing comparisons to a sketch of Goofy kicking Donald Duck.
Pennsylvania: State Supreme Court releases new congressional map for 2018 elections | Philadelphia Inquirer
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday released a new congressional district map to be used for the 2018 elections for U.S. House seats.Its plan splits only 13 counties. Of those, four counties are split into three districts and nine are split into two districts. By contrast the most recent map, enacted in 2011, split 28 counties. It also includes significant changes to the state map, including dividing Philadelphia into only two congressional districts; currently three House members represent parts of the city. In another win for local Democrats, the fourth district is centered on Montgomery County. Critics of the map adopted in 2011 often pointed to Montgomery County, which was split into five districts in that plan and had no member of congress living in the county. Bucks, Chester, and Delaware counties also receive districts based largely on their areas.
Perhaps no event will do more to reshape the fight for control of the House than the new congressional map just released by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. At stake was the fate of a Republican gerrymander that intended to cement a 13-5 Republican advantage in an evenly divided state. Now the Republicans will have little to no advantage at all. Democrats couldn’t have asked for much more from the new map. It’s arguably even better for them than the maps they proposed themselves. Over all, a half-dozen competitive Republican-held congressional districts move to the left, endangering several incumbent Republicans, one of whom may now be all but doomed to defeat, and improving Democratic standing in two open races. Based on recent election results, the new congressional map comes very close to achieving partisan balance.
In Pennsylvania, a Republican lawmaker unhappy with a State Supreme Court ruling on gerrymandering wants to impeach the Democratic justices who authored it. In Iowa, a running dispute over allowing firearms in courthouses has prompted bills by Republican sponsors to slash judges’ pay and require them to personally pay rent for courtrooms that are gun-free. In North Carolina, the Republican Party is working on sweeping changes to rein in state courts that have repeatedly undercut or blocked laws passed by the legislature. Rather than simply fighting judicial rulings, elected officials in some states across the country — largely Republicans, but Democrats as well — are increasingly seeking to punish or restrain judges who hand down unfavorable decisions, accusing them of making law instead of interpreting it.
On Wednesday night, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court finally released its majority opinion explaining why Republicans’ gerrymander of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts violates the state constitution. (On Jan. 22, the court had issued a brief order directing the Legislature to redraw the illegal districts without fully explaining its reasoning.) Justice Debra McCloskey Todd’s 139-page opinion for the court is thorough and persuasive—and, critically, its reasoning isn’t entirely limited to Pennsylvania. Instead, Todd illustrates how dozens of other state constitutions may be interpreted to protect voting rights more robustly than the U.S. Constitution does. Her decision will arm activists in every state with a powerful new tool in the fight against political redistricting.
Pennsylvania: Republicans have drawn a new congressional map that is just as gerrymandered as the old one – The Washington Post
Last month the Pennsylvania Supreme Court instructed the state’s Republican-led legislature to draw a new congressional map after finding the existing one was an illegal partisan gerrymander that violated voters’ right to participate in “free and equal elections.” On Friday, Republican leaders in the legislature submitted their new map for the governor’s approval. As directed by the Supreme Court, the new map is much more compact than the old one. Gone are the infamous convolutions that characterized the old map, earning nicknames such as “Goofy kicking Donald Duck.” The new districts generally respect county and municipal boundaries and don’t “wander seemingly arbitrarily across Pennsylvania,” as the state’s Supreme Court wrote. Unfortunately for Pennsylvania voters, the new districts show just as much partisan bias as the old ones.
Pennsylvania: GOP proposes a new congressional map. Democrats say it’s still gerrymandered | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A proposed new map of Pennsylvania congressional districts may have sanded off some of the rougher edges of the current version, but it still amounts to a pro-Republican gerrymander, a chorus of Democrats complained Saturday as they urged Gov. Tom Wolf to reject it. The governor, whose administration is combing through the proposal with the advice of a prominent mathematics professor, is expected to announce his position on the new map early this week.
If there was any doubt that state Senate leader Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore, redistricting czars Rep. David Lewis and Sen. Ralph Hise and others in the North Carolina legislature’s Republican leadership are marching to the beat of a drummer only they can hear, the U.S. Supreme Court offered loud and clear evidence Monday. We can only hope the message made it through to Berger and his gang. Justice Samuel Alito turned down a request from the state’s Republicans to delay redrawing congressional district lines. He said GOP legislative leaders in Pennsylvania violated the state constitution by unfairly favoring Republicans.