Federal Court Seals Fate in Redistricting Case

Kristi Pronovost Merit Shop Spokesman Blog

By: Brent Sailhamer, Director of Government Affairs

With less than eight weeks until the May 15 primary election, Pennsylvania’s redistricting fiasco is finally over.

The challenge, originated by the League of Women Voters, focused on Pennsylvania’s 18 Congressional districts that had been drawn by a bipartisan commission in 2012.  The challenge claimed that districts were unevenly drawn, disproportionately affecting elections in favor of Republicans and disenfranchising voters. Although the Commonwealth Court supported the maps in ruling last year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the decision in early 2018, setting in motion a fast-paced legal battle that had candidates in limbo for weeks.

After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued maps that they felt were more supportive of voters across the Commonwealth, legislative Republicans challenged the move, claiming that the judicial branch had usurped authority spelled out in the United States Constitution, clearly assigning election powers to state legislatures. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to issue a stay in the case as a federal district court simultaneously denied the challenge.

The move means that the new map, which was issued by the Supreme Court, will be used for the 2018 election cycle. By nearly every analysis, the map makes the election tougher for Republicans. After the decision, Republican Congressman Ryan Costello, who represents portions of Chester, Berks, and Lancaster counties, announced that he would not seek re-election in a district that supported Hillary Clinton in 2016. The announcement marks the sixth incumbent Congressman who will not seek re-election in 2018 – an unprecedented number in Pennsylvania.  The move follows a national trend of Congressional retirements marking more than 50 incumbent representatives choosing not to seek another term.

March 28, 2018