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PA’s Newly Redistricted Legislative Maps To Face Court Challenges

Amanda Holt's Original State House Map Proposal

By Tara Jerry, Contributing Writer

As was expected, challenges to Pennsylvania’s new legislative maps were filed Wednesday, the deadline for filing appeals with the State Supreme Court. In total, 11 appeals have been filed to the state House and state Senate boundaries passed by the legislature.

The most general of these appeals came from State Senate Democrats, led by Minority Leader Jay Costa.  Costa was the only dissenting vote on the five-person Legislative Reapportionment Committee that was tasked with redistricting Pennsylvania’s fifty Senate and 203 House seats following the 2010 Census.  The Commission consisted of party leaders from the state Senate and House plus a senior judge appointed by the State Supreme Court.

Other challenges come from West Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta, whose borough has been split into three districts, and Phoenixville Mayor Leo Scoda, whose borough has been split into two districts.  Attorney Sam Stretton represents both of those appeals, and says the new map violates the state Constitution.  The Constitution says that “unless absolutely necessary no county, city, incorporated town, borough, township or ward shall be divided in forming either a senatorial or representative district.”

Among the other appeals are plantiffs such as the Chester County Democratic Committee, a challenge that addresses the new state Senate district in Monroe County and a filing from Lehigh County resident Amanda Holt. Amanda Holt not only filed an appeal, but she also drew a new map.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing for January 23 to hear arguments on the appeals.

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