Smucker: New congressional map result of 'judicial activism'

Republican's district will no longer include Berks

LANCASTER, Pa. - Two of the four men who represent Berks County in Congress are weighing in on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's redrawing of the state's congressional districts.

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker, a Lancaster County Republican, currently holds the 16th District seat, which comprises parts of Lancaster, Chester, and Berks counties, including Reading.

If the new map holds up to a legal challenge by the state's GOP leaders, Smucker's home will become part of the 11th District, which will be made up of Lancaster County, part of neighboring York County and none of Berks.

"The partisan Supreme Court of Pennsylvania tossed aside our commonwealth's constitution in favor of judicial activism," Smucker said Tuesday. "This entire process endangers the people's right to hold accountable those determining who represents them in Congress. I believe the court has dramatically overstepped its bounds, and ultimately the federal courts will have to answer this important constitutional question."

Under the new map released by the court Monday, Berks will be represented by the 4th, 6th, and 9th districts.

Geographically, much of the county, will be in the 9th District, which also includes all of Carbon, Columbia, Lebanon, and Schuylkill counties, as well as parts of Luzerne, Montour, and Northumberland.

Reading and the southern part of Berks, including Birdsboro, Kenhorst, Mohnton, Shillington, and Wyomissing, will be part of the 6th District, which also includes Chester County.

U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, a Chester County Republican, serves the 6th District. A spokesperson for his campaign, Andrea Bozek, issued a statement about the new map. "This map is likely unconstitutional and it is clearly a corrupt political gerrymander undertaking by a partisan court," Bozek said. "This isn't an attempt to create a fair district, it is as an attempt to put Congressman Costello at an electoral disadvantage. It is our understanding the Republican Leadership in the state legislature are considering several options including the possible impeachment of some justices for these blatant, premeditated, partisan actions."

The eastern edge of Berks, including Boyertown, Bechtelsville, and Bally, are included with the 4th District, which also covers much of Montgomery County.

Thomas Rentschler of Exeter Township was among the petitioners who sued and won to get the new map. 

"I wouldn't say that I was a part of it because the map was unfair to Democrats. I'd make it a little broader. I think it was unfair to the citizens of Pennsylvania," said Rentschler. "The way that map was drawn, the representatives were picking their voters rather than the other way around."

State Republican leaders are promising action in federal court.

"And it's very possible that decision may throw these maps out completely," said Berks County Republican Commissioner Christian Leinbach, who called the map "one of the worst possible options for Berks County."

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