HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Pennsylvania’s Democratic Supreme Court won control Wednesday in choosing new district lines for the state’s shrinking congressional delegation, a process that leaves the governor and Legislature deadlocked.
Five Democratic justices issued orders directing the lower judge to provide them with a report on Monday proposing a new map, along with her factual and legal findings supporting for it.
It is the second time in four years that the state’s top courts have stepped in to direct congress to distort political polarization, and the latest example of state courts potentially promoting Democrats in bitter battles over redistricting.
Chief Justice Max Baer, a Democrat, said the court was stepping in to make progress faster.
“The threat of any stage of appeal from the Commonwealth Court’s decision to this court reduces the rare number of days it takes for this court to obtain summary information, study the complex issue and this important and decision-making,” wrote Baer, noting the pressures of the state’s election calendar.
The decision comes after Democratic Governor Tom Wolf vetoed a proposed map through the Republican-majority Legislature following quasi-partisan views.
Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough, a Republican, will serve as a “special master”. Parties to a redistricting case she is dealing with who object to her report can do so before the Supreme Court by February 14. Oral arguments will occur on May 18. Two.
Collecting signatures for petitions to get on the May 17 primary ballot is scheduled to begin on February 15 but could be delayed. Both Republicans on the Supreme Court disagree.
Judge Sallie Mundy, a Republican, said she would rather let McCullough make the decision and opinion and then proceed with the appeal, rather than let the court exercise its jurisdiction at the time. this point.
A majority of the courts argued that they acted because of the impasse between Wolf and the General Assembly, adding that they saw “time of the essence.” McCullough was also instructed to present to the judges a proposal to amend the election deadline.
Democrats last week asked the Supreme Court to take over the process from McCullough, arguing that their own precedent suggested that the Supreme Court should choose a new map when the executive and legislative branches are in the process. deadlock, not a lower court judge.
Democrats have argued that allowing McCullough to issue an order adopting a particular map of her choice would go against that precedent. Instead, they say, the court should follow the 1992 precedent, when it appointed a Commonwealth Court judge as special chair to make recommendations to the state Supreme Court.
Relatively slow population growth over the past decade has cost Pennsylvania one congressional seat, so the new map must explain the drop in delegation numbers from 18 to 17.
In Ohio, the state’s Supreme Court hit hard at the pro-Republican maps of the GOP-controlled Legislature, ruling that they violated the 2018 ballot bill against partisan gerrymandering .
The North Carolina Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a case in which Democrats and civil rights groups argued that maps drawn by the state’s GOP violated the state’s constitution. them about drawing lines to benefit one side.
And a federal court last month ordered Alabama Republicans to draw a congressional map with a second constituency in which Black voters could choose their representation, which could could give Democrats a new seat in the deeply conservative nation.
In Pennsylvania, judges in 2018 rolled out a Republican-generated map that gave a sustained 13-5 GOP advantage in congressional seats. The court replaced it with a map from which nine Republicans and nine Democrats of Congress were drawn from Pennsylvania.
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https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2022/02/03/pa-supreme-court-and-redistricting/ Pennsylvania Supreme Court Decision Map of the Commonwealth of Parliament – CBS Pittsburgh