Federal judges reject lawsuit over Pennsylvania district map

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A panel of federal judges is throwing out a legal challenge by Republican congressmen to a district map developed last month by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The judges said Monday they have no authority to act in the matter except to throw out the case.

The decision comes with a day left for the state's congressional candidates to circulate petitions to get on the May 15 primary ballot.

The Democratic majority on the state Supreme Court ruled in January that the map Republicans crafted in 2011 amounted to an unconstitutional gerrymander.

After lawmakers in the GOP-controlled General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf didn't produce a replacement, the state court enacted its own.

The eight GOP congressmen, including U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello and U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker, and two Republican state senators filed the federal lawsuit a month ago.

They argued the state justices overstepped their authority in enacting their own map and should have given lawmakers more time to craft a replacement.

The lawsuit's defendants were elections officials under Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and 18 Democratic voters who got a 2011 map declared unconstitutional in January, including Thomas Rentschler of Exeter Township, Berks County.

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