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Lawsuit Filed Over Pa. Congressional District Lines

Congressional MapsThe League of Women Voters and voters from all 18 of Pennsylvania’s Congressional districts are filed a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court asking to have the current map thrown out because of partisan gerrymandering.  

The lawsuit argues that the map was drawn to put as many Democratic voters into the 1st, 2nd, 13th, 14th, and 17th districts to give Republican voters a majority in the other 13 districts.  

“By any measure, Pennsylvania’s congressional map is among the top three starkest partisan gerrymanders in the country.  This map was drawn to ensure that our general elections will be decided before voters even go to the polls on Election Day,” legal director with the Public Interest Law Center Mimi McKenzie said in a statement about the filing.  

The Public Interest Law Center is part of the legal team representing the petitioners in the case.  .  

In the filing, the groups point to statements from the U.S. and Pennsylvania Supreme Courts condemning partisan gerrymandering.  

“This practice is illegal and has been condemned by the Supreme Courts of the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The U.S. Supreme Court has explained that ‘[p]artisan gerrymanders . . . are incompatible with democratic principles.’ … The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has written that a partisan gerrymander would violate the Pennsylvania Constitution when ‘there was intentional discrimination against an identifiable political group’ that resulted in ‘an actual discriminatory effect on that group,’” the filing argues.  

The League of Women Voters wants the lines declare unconstitutional by the Commonwealth Court, and force the lines to be redrawn ahead of the 2018 election.  

There is currently a case before the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional and asking the court to make it illegal.  

The League of Women Voters wants to make it illegal to use any identifiable markers to draw the lines.  This includes party identification, or individual political beliefs.

11 Responses

  1. Most of the Philadelphia Democratic House Delegation voted in favor of the 2011 Congressional Redistricting plan because the plan gave Brady (D-1st), Fattah (D-2nd) and Schwartz (D-13) got exactly the Congressional Districts each of them wanted. So in a manner of speaking the plan is a bi-partisan plan. The real problem with the current plan is that the chattering classes in the Philadelphia suburbs are sore because CD 6, CD-7 and CD 8 have not dropped into their Democratic laps during the last six years as they expected them to. If these three CDs had swung to the Democratic column as expected the whining would have stopped a long time ago.

    1. Yeah, the Dems who supported this ridiculousness are getting a pass. Let’s remember exactly who (Brady, Doyle) lobbied FOR the map, and which Dem legislators voted for it.

  2. Where was the law suit back seven years ago when the districts were gerrymandered? We are almost to the next census already. Both major parties are guilty of designing the districts. No incumbent politicians should be able to choose who can or can not vote for them. Take the whole process out of their hands.

    1. This lawsuit is based on the decision in the recent case out of Wisconsin, which finally has recognized partisan gerrymandering as a justiciable issue for the first time.

  3. Gerrymandering is done by both political parties when they are in power. So what ! It is not illegal, it’s called winning elections.Of course the opposing party is going to adject. One wsy i alway thouht could make gerrymandering less effective is to use the open primary system !

  4. I read some articles on this site and I think your blog is really interesting and has great information. Thank you for your sharing.
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  5. Happy to see this challenge to the blatant gerrymandering of districts in PA. We all know this is illegal; just look at those funny little creatures outlined by the district map. Nobody can say with a straight face that those are naturally drawn districts.

    1. The problem is that it isNOT illegal. They want to now make it illegal because it has been raised to a science with computers and big data and it’s being used proudly by both parties as a way to control the outcome of elections before voters go to the polls.

  6. I’m happy this lawsuit was filed, but if the maps are declared unconstitutional, the districts get redrawn under the current system, which is still controlled by the party leaders. That’s why Fair Districts PA is proposing passage of SB22 or HB722 to remove them from the process. Also, time is of the essence, considering the census is in 3 years. This could get stalled in the appellate courts for awhile.

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