Penn State Supreme Court View map of indoor areas – CBS Pittsburgh

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – A swarm of lawyers filled the courtroom of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Friday, with most of them debating their clients’ preferred map of the new congressional districts as Judges weigh in on how to decide which is best.

Meanwhile, judges have not necessarily embraced the Republican-backed map proposed by a lower court judge, but are seen by Democrats in the presidential battleground state as white. roll.

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Judges in Pennsylvania’s Democratic high court repeatedly said they did not want the political task of choosing a map in a decade-long exercise aimed at adjusting to demographic shifts. .

However, they are facing more than a dozen maps, mostly drawn by partisans, and are stuck with a decision because of the stalemate between Democratic Governor Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled Legislature. control.

One thing seems clear: the judges will not give any special consideration to the proposed map just because it passed the Legislature.

Instead, they seek out a nonpartisan and neutral base for map picking, a quest that can enhance maps created by nonpartisan groups.

Justice Kevin Dougherty, a Democrat, urged a Republican attorney in the Senate to suggest how the court could find a “judicial neutral” way to make political decisions. .

“This court tries to stay away from politics,” Dougherty told the lawyer. “We have said many times, ‘we have to do this.’ We are now faced with the development of some kind of standard for reviewing so many maps that all regulations are constitutional. ”

Oral debates lasted about five hours, with a decision coming under time pressure from the primaries schedule.

Control of politics in Washington is at stake, as courts and lawmakers in many other states have determined the boundaries of congressional districts that will last for a decade, through 2032.

Complicating the mapping of Pennsylvania is the fact that the state is losing a congressional seat – from 18 to 17 in the US House of Representatives – because of the relatively slow rate of population growth reflected in the census. population 2020.

Pennsylvania’s delegation is currently split evenly, nine Democrats and nine Republicans, and registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 4 million to 3.4 million.

Most of the time, the judges asked the attorneys before them which criteria were best to use when choosing between maps.

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Debates often involve the question of whether Pittsburgh should be divided between two counties.

The justices also faced the question of what to do with the proposal of Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough, a Republican who raised the map raised by Republican lawmakers. on the map proposed by Wolf, Democratic lawmakers, partisans on both sides, and civic advocacy groups.

In his report, McCullough gave it more respect as it passed the Legislature. However, Wolf vetoed it, not a single Democratic legislator voted for it, and Democrats generally see it as a partisan map that could tilt the delegation in favor of the GOP.

Attorneys for the Republican lawmakers asserted that McCullough made the correct decision, but the judges were not convinced by McCullough’s logic.

“I struggle with Judge McCullough’s presentation that somehow represents the will and voice of the people and that Governor Wolf’s veto does not represent the will and voice either. speak of the people,” said Justice Kevin Brobson, a Republican.

Later, Justice Christine Donohue, a Democrat, said “we all agree that neither of those plans deserves to be disregarded”, referring to a plan backed by politicians Republican legislature and a plan submitted by Wolf.

The judges also seem unconvinced by the Republican attorneys’ argument that their map is superior because it was created after holding public hearings and soliciting public comments. them, despite the governor’s veto.

Dougherty refutes that, saying “whoever has a public hearing wins, and so we have both sides have to have public hearings that exclude the other and there’s no process. “

Chief Justice Max Baer, ​​a Democrat, then asked an attorney if the maps produced by nonpartisan people were “genuine” because they came from a high-level process. .

He specifically mentioned those produced by Draw the Lines, a project of the Good Government Seventy Commission based in Philadelphia, and a group of academics who teach in Pennsylvania and specialize in mathematics, computer science, statistics, geography and data.

While reviewing the maps, the state Supreme Court indefinitely adjourned for candidates to circulate petitions to get the May 17 primary vote.

The judges can also delay the primaries.

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(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.) Penn State Supreme Court View map of indoor areas – CBS Pittsburgh


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