New Redistricting Map in Hands State Supreme Court

Pennsylvania's Supreme Court has released its version of congressional districts and it has plenty of changes.

Some communities, including Hazle Township in Luzerne County and Smithfield Township in Monroe County, are split between two districts.

Numerous changes seem generally favorable for Democrats.

Under the new map, she would have won eight of the state's 18 congressional districts. They argue that only lawmakers and the governor can draw congressional lines, not courts.

While most of the Hazleton area within Luzerne County falls within the new 8th District, some falls in neighboring 9th District, which includes all of Schuylkill and Carbon counties. Bucks and Chester counties also receive districts based largely on their boundaries. It has been aligned farther west and will include Erie, Crawford, Mercer, Lawrence and Butler counties. Bob Brady's 1st Congressional District. The map was approved in a 4-3 decision, with four Democratic justices backing it and one Democratic justice siding with two Republicans against it.

"I applaud the court for their decision, and I respect their effort to remedy Pennsylvania's unfair and unequal congressional elections", Wolf, a Democrat, said in a statement. He said his focus would become ensuring that his administration update the state elections bureau's systems and ensure processes are in place to help candidates.

But don't expect the map to end the battle. And the court did not give them enough time to enact a new map.

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The state court's own "remedial plan", it said, was a better plan or at least as constitutionally acceptable a plan as those submitted to it.

"He is scrupulously fair and will do exactly what the court tells him and no more", said Justin Levitt, also a redistricting expert and law professor at Loyola in Los Angeles. In the redrawn map, that district includes north-central counties with parts or all of Clinton, Mifflin, Juniata, Perry, Snyder, Northumberland, Union, Lycoming, Sullivan, Bradford, Susquehanna, Tioga and Potter counties.

The Democratic-majority state high court ruled last month that Pennsylvania's district boundaries were unconstitutionally gerrymandered. The primary is scheduled for May 15th.

Shuster is not seeking re-election. The General Assembly failed to pass legislation for the governor's approval, thereby making it impossible for our sister branches to meet the court's deadline.

Reilly said there is a nominating meeting scheduled for tonight, but he was not sure Monday if that would go forward or be stayed to see whether the map will be challenged in federal court. If the three candidates from Indiana County give up the quest for the 13th District seat, the field narrows to six Republicans and zero Democrats. House and Senate Republicans worked largely with existing staff members who have previous Pennsylvania mapping experience.

Wolf rejected that map last week, joining a growing consensus that the map was still a partisan gerrymander. That order came in response to a petition filed by voters claiming the map violated the state constitution with rampant gerrymandering in favor of Republicans.

In the days since, groups tied to the case have continued to fight. However, most districts across the state are not affected by these rulings and will continue to use the 2017 map. Since a new map was drawn by legislative Republicans in 2011, each congressional election has resulted in 13 Republicans and five Democrats being elected to the House of Representatives.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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