As the countdown continues to the oral arguments at the Pennsylvania Supreme Court over the state’s House and Senate maps, the list of challenges to the final plan grows.
Under the Keystone State’s Constitution, any person can bring a challenge to either map to the high court no later than Monday, March 7. As of yesterday, four separate challenges have been filed.
A trio of Butler County residents, including potential legislative candidate Ryan Covert, have challenged how the state House map divides their home county. The December preliminary map drew Butler County into three state representative districts, while the final map approved four districts (8, 11, 12, 17) for the county of nearly 194,000.
State senator Lisa Bascola (D-Northampton) is objecting to the way her home district was divided. The Lehigh Valley is currently represented by three Senate seats: the 16th (Lehigh County), the 18th (Lehigh and Northampton counties) and the 40th (Northampton and Monroe counties) and has no splits of municipalities or cities. The final plan brought part of a new 14th District into the area, while also splitting the cities of Allentown and South Whitehall Township and the two largest school districts in the region.
Todd Elliott Koger claims that he was drawn out of his 24th State House district to knowingly benefit Martell Covington, an aide to Senator Jay Costa, in an upcoming April 5 special election. Costa was one of five members on the Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC).
Finally, House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre), who has been a vocal opponent of the LRC, its decisions and its maps, wants the Supreme Court to toss the maps out. He contends that the final plan fails to comply with the PA Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act.
After Monday’s deadline, the LRC will have a few days to respond to the suits. After the briefs are filed, the high court will decide if it chooses to consider the challenges.