Pa. court issues new congressional map for 2018 elections

HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has imposed a new congressional district map for the state's 2018 elections, meeting its deadline to do so and likely setting up a challenge from Republicans.

Monday's order means a new map is to take effect in the May 15 primary.

As it stands, Berks County will have one fewer district, being part of the 4th, 6th and 9th districts. In addition to Berks, the 9th District also includes Carbon, Columbia, Lebanon, and Schuylkill counties, as well as parts of Luzerne, Montour, and Northumberland.

All of Lehigh and Northampton counties and part of Monroe County will be in the 7th District.

"I applaud the court for their decision and I respect their effort to remedy Pennsylvania's unfair and unequal congressional elections," said Gov. Tom Wolf. "Now, my focus will be on making sure the Department of State can support our counties and all candidates in the election process, particularly during the petition period."

The divided court appears to have drawn its own map, approved in a 4-3 vote, although some districts bear similarities to proposals submitted to the court by Democrats.

The court's order doesn't provide details on which counties, municipalities and wards are in each district. That has sowed confusion, including whether two candidates running to fill a vacancy in southwestern Pennsylvania would each land in a district with a Pittsburgh-area congressman.

Republican lawmakers are expected to quickly challenge the map in federal court, arguing legislatures and governors, not courts, have the constitutional responsibility to draw congressional maps.

If it stands, the revised map is almost certain to improve Democrats' chances in more seats this year.

The Democratic-majority state high court ruled last month that Pennsylvania's district boundaries were unconstitutionally gerrymandered. Republicans have won 13 of Pennsylvania's 18 seats in three elections under the invalidated map, although statewide elections are often closely contested.

The new map won't apply to March's special election in southwestern Pennsylvania's 18th District.


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