Pennsylvania

Pa. Supreme Court throws out state's congressional map

Says gerrymandering violates constitution

HARRISBURG, Pa - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has struck down the boundaries of the state's 18 congressional districts, granting a major victory to plaintiffs who had contended that they were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit Republicans.

The Democratic-controlled court issued the order Monday. It gives the Republican-controlled Legislature until February 9 to pass a replacement map and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf until February 15 to submit it to the court.

"Any congressional districting plan shall consist of: congressional districts composed of compact and contiguous territory; as nearly equal in population as practicable; and which do not divide any county, city, incorporated town, borough, township, or ward, except where necessary to ensure equality of population," the court said in its order.

Otherwise, the justices said they will adopt a plan in an effort to keep the May 15 primary election on track.

"I strongly believe that gerrymandering is wrong and consistently have stated that the current maps are unfair to Pennsylvanians," Wolf said in response to the court's ruling. "My administration is reviewing the order and we are assessing the executive branch's next steps in this process."

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania Lt. Governor Mike Stack, a defendant in the case, proposed a new map that, he said, was drawn using nonpartisan algorithms.

His plan would overhaul how Berks County is represented, returning the number of districts within the county from four to one.

"I look forward to working with leaders of the General Assembly over the next few weeks to develop a congressional map that truly serves Pennsylvania voters and unites the various communities in a way that gives them a meaningful voice in Congress," Stack said Monday.

The state's congressional delegation is controlled by Republicans, 13-5, even though registered Democratic voters outnumber registered Republicans.


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