By Brent Sailhamer, Director of Government Affairs
Pennsylvania is in the national spotlight just weeks after an initial ruling by the Commonwealth’s highest court that invalidated the district maps for eighteen Congressional districts. It’s the first time that a gerrymandering suit has been validated by a court and has thrown the 2018 election cycle into chaos.
Weeks ago, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed with the League of Women Voters (LWV) that the districts for the Commonwealth’s eighteen Congressional districts disenfranchised voters because of their complex nature and meandering boundaries. Since then, a flurry of alternatives have been circulated, by both parties in the legislature, the Governor, and even the LWV. Ultimately, this week the Supreme Court issued a dramatically revised map, not only restructuring district boundaries, but renumbering districts in a sequential order from east to west.
Republican lawmakers contend that the action has overstepped the limitations of the judicial branch and has violated the United States Constitution, which affords state legislatures the ability the structure legislative districts. Lawmakers filed an action with the federal district court this week claiming a Constitutional violation on those grounds.
Whatever the end result, the action by the court has thrown the election cycle into complete chaos. With only weeks until the May primary election, candidates are unsure what district they will be running for, or even if they’ll be running at all. Most voters will face new names on the ballot this election cycle, leaving little time for incumbent lawmakers to make their case to new constituents.
For an interactive version of the map provided by the Supreme Court, click here.