Federal Court Rules against GOP Challenge to New District Map

Posted March 20, 2018

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a request from Pennsylvania Republicans to block the state's new congressional map. Generally the justices stay out of the way when a state's highest court is interpreting its own state constitution. "Democrats only need 23 to retake the majority in the House, so this is one big chunk".

The three judges on the case were Chief U.S. District Judge Christopher C. Conner for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Judge Kent A. Jordan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and District Judge Jerome B. Simandle for the District of New Jersey.

This ruling can be appealed only to the Supreme Court, but a few hours later the Supreme Court turned down a similar request to overturn the new map.

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.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. turned down the state's first request on February 5, after the state supreme court ordered a new map.

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A three-judge panel of federal judges earlier Monday rejected a bid by two state senators and seven Republican members of Congress to get a redistricting plan developed by the state Supreme Court halted.

The state Supreme Court then imposed a new map that many outside experts said still gave Republicans an edge but created more competitive districts and some more districts that are expected to favor Democrats. The 2011 map that has been used this decade has resulted in Republicans consistently winning 13 of the state's 18 congressional seats.

The new map released last month by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will be what congressional representatives will be running in for this year's election cycle.

"Your Original was correct!"

The special election last week for Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District was held under the old map.

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In fact, Tuesday is the deadline for candidates to get their petitions filed with signatures to get on the ballot.

Pennsylvania election officials have said changing the process again would require postponing the primaries and could cost the commonwealth $20 million.

According to the Washington Post, the case "suggests a new mode of attack" in partisan gerrymandering cases that uses state constitutions to challenge voting maps.

Because the ruling was based on the state's constitution and not the US Constitution, the options for opponents to challenge it were limited.

But the court has on its current docket two cases - one from Wisconsin and one from Maryland - that raise the question.

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