Pennsylvania sends too many Republicans to Washington. That’s not a partisan attack. It’s just math. Of the 18 Pennsylvanian members of the House of Representatives, 13 are Republicans and 5 are Democrats. That split should be more like 11 to 7 or even 10 to 8 if the districts were drawn without attempts at favoring Republicans, according to recent expert analyses. It’s all about the map: Several lawsuits are attempting to get various state legislative and congressional maps declared unconstitutional on the basis of partisan gerrymandering, the idea that one political party drew the lines in a way that benefited them unfairly. The lawsuits rely on a set of tools that for the first time could convincingly identify skewed maps and persuade the courts that a state’s map goes too far in favoring one party. A federal court has ruled Wisconsin’s state legislative map unconstitutional, the first victory in a partisan gerrymandering case in three decades.
That decision used one of several new mathematical tests to help measure the map’s Republican skew, and the Supreme Court will hear the case in the fall; if it upholds the decision, it could create a legal standard, potentially including some of these tests for measuring map bias.
That could spell trouble for Pennsylvania, which fails those analyses.
People have made these claims before, but proof has been elusive. The Supreme Court had said too much gerrymandering could be unconstitutional, but the justices couldn’t agree on how much is too much — in part for lack of measurement standards.