House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) filed a lawsuit on Thursday that asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to discard the newly approved legislative maps and reinstate the previous maps of a decade ago.
Benninghoff argued that the Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC) set of House maps favors Democrats and violates state constitutional standards by splitting municipalities and creating differences in average district populations.
Municipalities cited as unfair include Allentown, Reading, Scranton, State College, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Lancaster.
“The plan at issue is an extreme partisan gerrymander: It has splits that are not ‘absolutely necessary,’ it has an excessive population deviation that violates one person, one vote, and is an inappropriate and illegal racial gerrymander,” said Benninghoff in a statement. “It is clear the only way to remedy these obvious flaws now is for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to send this plan back to the drawing board.”
The Centre County Republican was a member of the five-person commission that voted 4-1 to adopt the maps. Benninghoff was the lone dissenting vote. He did offer an amendment to adopt a plan of his choosing before the February 4 vote, but the amendment failed 3-2.
Benninghoff also is asking for reinstatement of the 2010 maps. “Given the serious legal problems lodged against the state redistricting plan in court filings and media reports, there is a significant chance that not all complaints will be sufficiently resolved to give Pennsylvania voters and putative candidates certainty that the districts adopted in the final plan will be usable during the current election cycle,” he said in a statement. “The request to run in the current legislative districts is in line with past precedent and reflects the dual realities of this plan’s significant legal challenges and the need to have certainty in the conduct of the 2022 elections.”
The Supreme Court has said that all appeals and briefs are due by March 7 and the LRC would have until March 11 to respond. At this time, there are no plans for the justices to hear oral arguments.