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Gerrymandering Opponents Win Cases, But Republican Advantage Likely in 2018

11 February 2018

Republican leaders in Pennsylvania's legislature submitted a plan for redrawing the state's congressional districts just hours before Friday's court-ordered deadline, but Democratic Governor Tom Wolf questioned whether the proposal will pass legal muster.

In late January, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the current maps were unfair and gave an advantage to Republican candidates.

Last month the State Supreme Court told lawmakers that Friday, Feb. 9th was the last day they had to submit their deadline. "Then, a 5-2 Democratic vote on the Pennsylvania Supreme court invalidates our map, it's completely wrong", Turzai said.

Holder serves as chairman of The National Democratic Redistricting Committee, an Obama-backed organization created past year to focus on races and ballot initiatives in states perceived as victims of Republican gerrymandering. Lewis said Wednesday he's not that concerned about the state having to hold appellate court primaries if it's ultimately required.

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Messages left for both justices at their chambers were not immediately returned.

Republicans were elected to represent 13 congressional districts in the state, to only five for Democrats, despite there being 800,000 more registered Democrats in the state. In 2016, Democrats won each of their five House seats with an average of 75 percent of the vote, while Republicans' margin of victory was an average of 62 percent across their 13 districts. "I think the most important thing is that people want their elections to be fair". Noting the difficulty in finding a judicially manageable standard [JURIST report] for determining when a redistricting plan becomes unconstitutional, the court returned to the standard for state legislative districts, first adopted in the 1873 constitution.

To reach this conclusion, the Court credited the expert testimony presented by the voters who challenged the 2011 redistricting plan - statisticians, political scientists, and political historians who explained how unlikely it was that the Republican-held legislature would have drawn such pro-Republican districts absent extreme partisan gerrymandering.

Select the newsletters you would like to subscribe to. In most states, the redistricting process is controlled by whichever party is in control at the statehouse at the time of redistricting. The first signs of this dynamic may have been the refusal by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to consider President Obama's final Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, during Obama's a year ago in office.

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That change would significantly condense the Lehigh Valley district, which was stretched west almost to Harrisburg in the 2011 map. According to FiveThirtyEight's Atlas of Redistricting, for instance, it's possible to draw a map that includes nine safe Democratic seats, a net gain of four seats. But it's worth noting that the Republicans' appeal to the Supreme Court was rooted in the idea that this was a state matter.

If the map is accepted, some candidates seeking one of the state's 18 congressional seats would no longer live in the boundaries of the seat they are seeking. They asked the nation's Supreme Court to step in and block the ruling lest "chaos" ensue.

Voters in North Carolina filed an emergency motion Wednesday asking a state court to order that election districts crafted by a court-appointed special master be put into effect in time for upcoming state elections.

Republicans said that if the court ends up drawing a map independently of the General Assembly and governor, they intend to bring a case against the justices in federal court-though Crompton called that an avenue of "last resort".

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But Crompton said the map-drawers did not take partisanship into consideration.

Gerrymandering Opponents Win Cases, But Republican Advantage Likely in 2018