On Monday, Pennsylvania’s highest court ruled against GOP gerrymandering. The Pennsylvania Supreme court said the state’s gerrymandered congressional map “clearly, plainly, and palpably” violates the state constitution and ordered the General Assembly construct a new map to be presented to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf by Feb. 9. Gov. Wolf then has until Feb. 15 to approve it.
The suit was brought against the state by leaders of Common Cause and the League of Women Voters in which they argued that the current map “was the product of a national movement by the Republican Party to entrench its own representatives in power by utilizing the latest advances in map-making technologies and big data to gerrymander districts more effectively than ever before.” They applauded the decision by the high court stating it was time for voters to choose politicians rather than “politician choosing voters,” according to Los Angeles Times.
“We hope that in drawing this map, that legislators will utilize the map drawn by experts as a blueprint to restore the vote to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians who were essentially disenfranchised by the outrageous and unconstitutional gerrymander,” Micah C.T. Sims, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, said.
While both political parties are guilty of partisan gerrymandering throughout the years, election law experts believe this ruling (and other suits yet to be decided on) will have “an impact on this year’s midterm election and the battle for the control of the House,” according to Los Angeles Times.
The ruling in Pennsylvania is the third of its kind this year and the state now joins Wisconsin, North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Alabama and Virginia. But unlike these other states, Pennsylvania’s ruling was based on the state constitution so it cannot face an appeal in federal court.
“The court order will result in new maps in time for the 2018 election so that voters will not be forced to face a fourth congressional election under these unconstitutionally gerrymandered congressional districts,” Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause, said.