The United States Supreme Court declined to hear a request from Republican legislators in Pennsylvania who wanted the court to block a new congressional map in the state. It’s the second time the high court has rejected the case, and there were no noted dissents.
The decision means that Pennsylvania’s upcoming May primaries in the state’s new districts will go forward without delay, and the new map is likely a boon for Democrats come general elections this fall. The deadline to qualify to run for the redrawn seats is Tuesday.
Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court struck down the state’s congressional map earlier this year, determining that the map, drawn in 2011, violated the state’s constitution. The map was one of the most egregious examples of gerrymandering — a strategy of drawing districts in outlandish ways in an effort to elect more members of one party — in the county’s history, as Marc Stier, the director of Pennsylvania’s Budget and Policy Center, put it in an interview with ThinkProgress last week.
The map was ultimately redrawn by a nonpartisan expert, creating four swing districts, eight that favor Republicans, and six that favor Democrats. This is a sea-change from years past, when Republicans have typically won 13 out of 18 House seats despite getting only about 50 percent of total statewide votes.
Republican legislators in the state have fought to block the new map since January, arguing that the legislature should have been the one to redraw the map.
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court conspicuously seized the redistricting process and prevented any meaningful ability for the legislature to enact a remedial map to ensure a court-drawn map,” state House Speaker Michael C. Turzai (R) and Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph B. Scarnati III said.
But federal courts have historically steered clear of issues of state constitutions, and the Supreme Court’s decision makes final the redrawn map.
Hope Republicans in the Great State of Pennsylvania challenge the new “pushed” Congressional Map, all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary. Your Original was correct! Don’t let the Dems take elections away from you so that they can raise taxes & waste money!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2018
President Donald Trump, of course, has weighed in on the issue, tweeting his support for the Republican cause last month.
“Your Original was correct!” he said. “Don’t let Dems take elections away from you so that they can raise taxes & waste money!”
The decision finalizing Pennsylvania’s new map comes less than a week after Democrat Conor Lamb won a special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th district, which Trump won by 20 points in 2016.