US Supreme Court Dismisses Attempt To Block New Pa. Congressional Map

Nathaniel Persily

The panel of two United States district judges and one federal court of appeals judge said the Republican senators did not have standing to sue. With the two decisions - both coming on the eve of the petition-filing deadline for congressional candidates - no legal challenges to the map remain.

Under the state Supreme Court's map, most analysts expect Democrats to gain between 3-5 seats in Congress.

The U.S. Supreme Court request for a stay, filed by state Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, and House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, was sent to Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who has jurisdiction for cases coming out of the area.

It was the second time that the court declined to get involved in the partisan battle that has roiled Pennsylvania politics.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued the new map itself in mid-February after the Republican-led state legislature and Democratic governor could not agree on a new congressional map. A stay would have resulted in the use of the 2011 map for this year's congressional elections in Pennsylvania. "The people of Pennsylvania are exhausted of gerrymandering and the new map corrects past mistakes that created unfair Congressional Districts and attempted to diminish the impact of citizens' votes".

"The issues presented in this case touch on questions of high importance to our republican form of government. Now, Pennsylvania must move forward and work together to enact nonpartisan redistricting reforms", Wolf said.

Republicans have been fighting the new map because they believe it was created by partisan judges.

Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Wolf said in court papers that 150 candidates relied on the new map as they collected signatures to appear on the ballot.

The new map, which now nearly certainly will be the lines under which candidates will run in 2018, also handed Democrats a series of opportunities including at least three seats in southeastern Pennsylvania and several more improved opportunities in places like Allentown and southwestern Pennsylvania. Under those maps, Republicans have held 13 of the state's 18 congressional seats.

Because the ruling was based on the state's constitution and not the US Constitution, the options for opponents to challenge it were limited. It has always been our belief that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court acted in the best interest of the citizens of our commonwealth. If, say, Democrats could raise that to five seats, then more than 20% of all the seats they need to pick up to retake the majority might come from Pennsylvania alone.

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