No proof congressional map is unconstitutional, judge says

Map unfairly favors Republicans, plaintiffs claim

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A Pennsylvania judge said Democratic voters suing to invalidate the current map of the state's congressional districts haven't proven that it violates the state constitution by unfairly favoring Republican candidates.

Commonwealth Court Judge Kevin Brobson issued a 130-page report Friday to the state Supreme Court.

"A lot can and has been said about the 2011 plan, much of which is unflattering and yet justified," the judge said in his report. "Petitioners, however, have failed to meet their burden of proving that the 2011 plan, as a piece of legislation, clearly, plainly, and palpably violates the Pennsylvania Constitution."

The Democratic-majority high court ordered the lower court to hold hearings and produce a report by Friday's deadline.

The justices quickly scheduled oral arguments to be held January 17.

Time is ticking since candidates for the 2018 election can start circulating petitions February 13 to get on the primary ballot.

The primary election is May 15.

Republicans now fill 13 of Pennsylvania's 18 seats in the U.S. House, despite winning roughly half of the statewide congressional vote in the last three congressional elections.

Thomas Rentschler of Exeter Township, Berks County, is one of the lawsuit's 18 plaintiffs.

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