Pennsylvania Supreme Court Throws Out Congressional District Boundaries, Orders Them Redrawn

| JAN 22, 2018 | 10:12 PM

While much of the political world's attention Monday was focused on whether Congress would figure out a way to reopen the government, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court handed Democrats a big win.

In a 4-3 ruling, the court declared that the way the lines were drawn by the Republican-majority state legislature after the 2010 census “clearly, plainly and palpably” violates the state constitution. The court also ordered the legislature to redraw the districts and have them approved by the governor by Feb. 9, ahead of the May primaries.

From The Washington Post:

Less partisan congressional districts could give Democrats a chance this November to win back as many as half a dozen seats that had been lost to them over the past decade. It could also give the party a major boost in its quest to take back the House of Representatives, where Democrats need to net 24 seats to win control of the chamber.

The ruling is the most recent loss for Republicans, who tried to gerrymander congressional districts to favor their party in a number of states after the last census. Last week, a North Carolina court struck down the partisan gerrymandering in that state. Courts have also ruled against the GOP in Wisconsin, Virginia, Texas, Florida and Alabama.

Given how often state and federal courts have knocked these gerrymanders down over their blatant unconstitutionality, one can wish Republicans might engage in a little self-reflection. The courts keep seeing through these efforts to turn the states into one-party fiefdoms that result in minority rule at both the state and federal levels. And yet, as The New York Times reports about Monday's ruling:

But the state’s Republican-dominated legislature, which approved the current district map in 2011, has already said it would seek to overturn such a decision in federal court. That would set up another legal battle over gerrymanders in a year already filled with them.

The right to vote is one of the most basic guaranteed under the Constitution. Republicans are determined to make it as hard as possible for Democratic voters, no matter how many times courts tell them to pound sand. Draw your own conclusions.

Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.