Shapiro, Other Dems Take Redistricting Maps to Court

Montco Commissioner Josh Shapiro

Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro is making his voice heard far beyond his own county – he’s taking a legal challenge all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Shapiro, backed by seven other Montgomery County plaintiffs, filed an appeal Monday in opposition to the 2011 Legislative Reapportionment Commission’s plan; they’re asking the Court to toss out the final maps released on June 8.

The other petitioners include County Commissioner Leslie Richards, State Senator Daylin Leach, Lower Merion Township Treasurer Sam Adenbaum, Upper Dublin Board President Ira Tackel, Lower Merion Township residents Harvey Glickman and David Dormont, and Marcel L. Groen, Chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Committee.

They say the commission’s maps divide the county into six Senate districts, none of which is entirely in the county, and nineteen House districts, unnecessarily and inexplicably dividing municipalities, boroughs, and wards, the team believes that with a population of around 800,000, redistricting of Montgomery County should be contained to three state Senate divisions, and a portion of a fourth, and to twelve state House divisions.

Because these divisions come in contrast to the Constitutional requirement that no county, borough, or township should be divided “unless absolutely necessary”, the plaintiffs believe that the divisions “were clearly designed to give the Republicans an advantage at the polls–not to comply with the constitutional directive.”

In a statement sent to supporters, Shapiro called the plan “overtly political”:

The 8 PA Senate districts proposed for Montgomery County

“The process is obviously political as it is run by political leaders.  However, what occurred this time went beyond traditional politicking,” he said. “In fact, as a result of the partisan gerrymandering, the Supreme Court last year invalidated the first map passed by this Commission. This second attempt, which our suit is based on, is no better. In fact, it is worse in some ways for Montgomery County.”

Shapiro further attacked the maps as unconstitutional:

“The Pennsylvania Constitution reads: ‘Unless absolutely necessary no county, city, incorporated town, borough, township or ward shall be divided in forming either a senatorial or representative district.’  This Plan does not meet the clear constitutional standard.”

Shapiro isn’t the first to call out the LRC’s plan as unconstitutional, nor is he the first to take it to the state Supreme Court.

Last week, Latino Justice filed an appeal against the Legislative Reapportionment Commission, saying it significantly suppressed the Latino vote.

Additionally Monday afternoon, Chuck Pascal, an attorney and former member of Democratic State Committee, filed a petition for review of the LRC’s final plan.

Pascal is representing eight plaintiffs from Pittsburgh, Westmoreland, and Cumberland counties: Kathryn Vargo, Jennifer Grab, Sandra Wolfe, Antonio Lodico, Emily Cleath, Daniel McArdle Booker, Rachel Canning, and Patrick Clark. They hope to redraw Allegheny.

Like other petitioners, Shapiro and his team hopes the appeal will “overturn this new map and force the Commission to redraw the lines in a fair, non-partisan way that keeps communities intact within district lines and places a premium on representation and not partisan political gain.”

The PA Supreme Court remanded the initial versions of the LRC’s House & Senate maps back in January, the first time that has happened since the modern redistricting process was instituted decades ago.

3 Responses

  1. I was hoping they would get voterID to supreme court first.If it doesn’t get overturned, it’s much worse than some badly drawn districts.

  2. Glad someone is doing something about this. Maybe Shapiro should take on the Voter ID Law next. I read that Montco and Bucks have a lot of affected voters.

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