Pennsylvania Supreme Court throws out state's congressional map

Pennsylvania’s 7th congressional district drawn to help Republicans maintain a political

Pennsylvania’s 7th congressional district drawn to help Republicans maintain a political

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the state's congressional map Monday, granting a major victory to Democrats who charged that the 18 districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit Republicans.

In their complaint, the voters called gerrymandering "one of the greatest threats to American democracy" and argued the state's Republican legislators "dismantled Pennsylvania's existing congressional districts and stitched them back together with the goal of maximizing the political advantage of Republican voters and minimizing the representational rights of Democratic voters". It gives the Republican-controlled legislature until February 9th to pass a replacement and gives Governor Tom Wolf until February 15th to submit it to the court. Something else, the judges said they will receive an arrangement with an end goal to keep the May 15 essential race on track.

A new map could give Democratic candidates a chance to capture as many as half a dozen Republican seats in Pennsylvania alone, with national polls showing voters strongly favoring Democrats in 2018. Critics say Pennsylvania's Congressional district map is one of the most gerrymandered in the country.

Democrats in the state, who are defending both the governor's mansion and a U.S. Senate seat, in addition to six U.S. House seats, also hailed the court's decision.

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The order requires the new map to divide the state's voters into districts that are contiguous and have equal populations, which federal law already required.

The court, where Democrats have a 5-2 majority, blocked the use of the map in the 2018 midterm elections and ordered state lawmakers to begin to draw a new map. The two dissenters are Republicans.

Chief Justice Thomas Saylor dissented from the majority, saying he'd have put the case on hold while awaiting a U.S. Supreme Court decision in a partisan gerrymandering case over the Wisconsin state legislature.

Republicans now control both houses of the general assembly, setting up another potential battle over a map that now has the GOP in control of 12 of the state's 18 congressional districts. Should the parties fail to reach an agreement on the plan, the justices said the court would move quickly on its own to develop a constitutional congressional map. The deadline to file paperwork to run in primaries for the state's congressional seats is March 6.

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