Pennsylvania Supreme Court Leaves New Democrat-Favored State House Map in Place

Kerry Benninghoff

Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives were dealt an expected blow this week as the state Supreme Court unanimously declined to overturn a new state-House-district map.

Every ten years, Pennsylvania’s Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC) must redraw the state’s 203 state legislative districts and 50 state senatorial districts to cohere with new population data reported by the U.S. Census. The five-member LRC is composed of the respective Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate as well as a chair appointment by the state Supreme Court. In the latest round of redistricting, Democrats effectively controlled the LRC, as the majority of justices on the court selected fellow Democrat Mark A. Nordenberg. 

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Picks Democrat-Favored Congressional Map

Democrats celebrated and Republicans demurred Wednesday after the Democrat-controlled Pennsylvania Supreme Court selected the state’s new congressional map.

In so doing, the court overturned a decision earlier this month by Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia A. McCullough (R) to allow implementation of a redistricting plan passed by the GOP-led General Assembly but vetoed by Governor Tom Wolf (D). The initial version of the legislature-approved map was drawn by a private citizen, Amanda Holt of Lehigh County, though legislators modified her plan somewhat.

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Ohio Supreme Court Gives Redistricting Commission Deadline to Show Cause

The Ohio Supreme Court has given the Ohio Redistricting Commission until noon Wednesday to show cause why it should not be held in contempt of court for failing to meet a deadline for new state legislative maps.

The commission missed an 11:59 p.m. Feb. 17 court-ordered deadline to submit a third set of maps after the court ruled the first two were unfairly gerrymandered to favor Republicans.

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Considers Congressional Maps, Asked to Consider State-House Districts as Well

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, deliberating over oral arguments made last Friday, will soon decide the congressional-district boundaries that apply in next year’s elections.

State House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Bellefonte) has meanwhile asked the court to strike down a newly enacted map containing districts for his own legislative chamber.

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Commonwealth Court Judge Chooses Citizen-Drawn Congressional Map Favored by GOP Legislature

Pennsylvania Capitol Building

Because Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor and GOP-controlled legislature couldn’t agree on a congressional redistricting plan, a Commonwealth Court judge has stepped in and chosen one favored by the latter.

Judge Patricia A. McCullough (R), who was charged individually with selecting a new congressional map from among several proposed by state officials and nongovernmental actors, issued a 228-page report explaining her decision.

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New Legislative Map that Aids Pennsylvania Democrats Is Finalized

Pennsylvania’s Legislative Redistricting Commission (LRC) on Friday finalized a new district map for state representatives that aids Democrats’ electability.

All three Democrats on the five-member LRC voted for the map, which is a modified version of a preliminary plan the same Democrats approved last month. Both Republicans voted against the plan.

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Gov. Wolf Vetoes Pennsylvania Congressional Map

On Thursday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) vetoed a proposed new congressional-district map passed by the Republican-run state legislature.

The governor’s decision effectively turns over the selection of a new map to the state judiciary. The Republican-run Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has indicated it would intervene if Wolf and lawmakers failed to agree on how the new districts will be reshaped. But even if that court chooses the reapportionment plan passed by the General Assembly, Wolf’s party may ultimately get its way by appealing to the Democrat-controlled state Supreme Court.

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Opposition to Pennsylvania State House Map Getting Voluble, and Not Just Among Republicans

Pennsylvania Capitol Building

Across the Keystone State, more and more observers are raising concerns about the proposed district map for state representatives.

The redistricting plan, crafted by a majority-Democrat Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC), has received reproach for unduly advantaging Democratic candidates, lacking competitiveness and diluting minority-voter strength. The period during which the LRC is hearing public comments on the map continues until next Tuesday, Jan. 18.

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Pennsylvania House Republicans to Hold Field Hearings on What They Deem Gerrymandered Districts

Pennsylvania House GOP leaders announced this week that their caucus will hold field hearings on the proposed new legislative-district plan which stands to make House districts more winnable for Democrats. 

The first House GOP Policy Committee hearing on the commission’s plan will take place on Tues., Jan. 4 at 4 p.m. at McCandless Town Hall at 9955 Grubbs Road in Wexford. The second will occur on Tues., Jan. 11 at 4 p.m. at the Upper Allen Township Building at 100 Gettysburg Pike in Mechanicsburg.

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Wisconsin Supreme Court Backs Republican-Drawn, ‘Least-Change’ Map

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has indicated it will not make many changes to the political map drawn by Republicans.

The court ruled 4-3 on Tuesday that it is going with the “least-change approach” to the state’s new political map.

“We have the power to provide a judicial remedy but not to legislate,” Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote for the majority. “We have no authority to act as a ‘super-legislature’ by inserting ourselves into the actual lawmaking function.”

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Wisconsin Gov. Evers Vetoes Republican-Drawn Redistricting Maps

Tony Evers

The fight over Wisconsin’s next political map took its next step toward a courtroom Thursday.

Gov. Tony Evers vetoed the new maps drawn by Republican lawmakers.

“What’s sitting in front of me here are gerrymandered maps modeled after the same gerrymandered maps we’ve had for a decade,” Evers said in a video message. “They were sent to my desk over the objections of a decade’s worth of people in this state demanding better, demanding more, and demanding a fair, nonpartisan process for preparing our maps for the next 10 years.”

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Sumner County Using Redistricting to Make Unprecedented Changes to County Commission Structure

Sumner County schools virtual meeting

The Sumner County Board of Commissioners is using redistricting required every 10 years following completion of the U.S. census in 2020 to potentially make significant and unprecedented changes to the county commission districts.

Sumner County currently has 12 county commission districts with two commissioners per district, but redistricting has opened the door to making 24 districts with one commissioner per district.

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This Fall and Winter, Redistricting Will Occupy Minds of Tennessee Politicians and Activists on the State and Local Levels

Tennessee State Capitol at night in winter

After the finalization of the U.S. Census every ten years, state and local governments set about redrawing their lawmakers’ and school directors’ district lines.

Throughout this fall and winter, legislators across the state will toil over this process sure to directly impact many of their futures. Although political considerations inevitably loom large in redistricting, the proceedings are theoretically intended to make districts as compact and contiguous as possible—i.e. to ensure that they don’t look like irregular puzzle pieces.

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Redistricting: Draft Virginia Senate Map Highlights Different Definitions of ‘Fair’

Capitol of the Commonwealth of Virginia

A new working draft of a Virginia Senate redistricting map is highlighting the question of what creating a fair map means. The working map was hammered out on Saturday in a closed-door meeting between the Democratic and Republican co-chairs, Democratic and Republican legal teams, and Democratic and Republican map-drawers.

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‘Voters Not Politicians,’ Which Rebuked Michigan Redistricting Commission for Hiring Republican Firm, Has Its Own Partisan Ties

The nonprofit Voters Not Politicians (VNP) has stridently criticized the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) for hiring a GOP-aligned law firm, but VNP’s own leftist agenda and political ties are getting little media attention.

The Lansing-based “nonpartisan” organization spearheaded the Proposal 2 referendum which created the MICRC to oversee legislative and congressional redistricting free of gerrymandering. 

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Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman Discusses His Recent Article in The Wall Street Journal on Gerrymandering

Friday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed former Supreme Court justice, Stephen Markman of the state of Michigan, to weigh in on his recent article at the Wall Street Journal addressing redistricting and gerrymandering.

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Analysis: Nine Things You Should Know About Ranked-Choice Voting

Proponents of overhauling elections to allow voters to have a backup plan if their candidate doesn’t win went 1-1 at the state level in the 2020 election, but are looking to change how elections work in other states. 

More than 30 bills on ranked-choice voting have been proposed in state legislatures across the country, according to Fair Vote, the nonprofit group that is promoting the system nationally. 

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Retired Judges Select Eight Citizens to Serve on Virginia Redistricting Commission

A selection committee of five retired judges on Wednesday chose the eight citizens who will serve on the Virginia Redistricting Commission, completing the membership determination process for the newly-implemented body tasked with proposing plans for redrawing the Commonwealth’s 111 congressional and legislative districts.

The judges met for several hours on Wednesday morning and had to come up with the eight names from a pool of 62 finalists.

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Virginians to Decide Gerrymandering Amendment

An anti-gerrymandering constitutional amendment that would change the way legislative districts are drawn in Virginia will be decided on the ballot.

The amendment is intended to prevent gerrymandering by establishing a 16-person bipartisan redistricting commission that would propose redistricting plans to the General Assembly. The General Assembly would be allowed to approve or decline the proposals, but would not be allowed to offer any amendments.

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Lawsuit Filed Over Ballot Language in Ongoing Battle Over Amendment 1 Redistricting

Virginia Lieutenant Governor candidate Paul Goldman filed a lawsuit Thursday against the State Board of Elections in the ongoing controversy over Amendment 1 redistricting. The suit says that the ballot question on the amendment uses misleading language to unfairly skew voter perception.

Goldman says people will assume they have a fair summary before them. However, he argues this is not the case.

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Supreme Court Rules Judges Can’t Block Partisan Gerrymandering

by Tyler Arnold   A narrowly divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday that federal judges have no authority to block politically gerrymandered maps. The 5-4 decision fell along ideological lines with the five conservative judges signing onto the decision and the liberal judges dissenting. “We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present…

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Supreme Court Blocks Order Requiring Republicans to Redraw District Lines in Ohio and Michigan

by Kevin Daley   The Supreme Court temporarily blocked two decisions Friday requiring Republican-controlled legislatures in Michigan and Ohio to produce new legislative district lines ahead of the 2020 election. There were no noted dissents from the Friday orders. The decision was not surprising, as the justices are currently deciding…

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Michigan, Ohio Republicans Ask Supremes to Put Gerrymandering Rulings on Hold

by Kevin Daley   Republican lawmakers in Michigan and Ohio asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block lower court decisions ordering them to produce new district lines for their congressional and state legislative maps. Separate three-judge panels found the Michigan and Ohio maps were rigged to favor of Republicans, in violation of the Constitution.…

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New Gerrymandering Ruling Will Have Big Effects for GOP in 2020

by Kevin Daley   A federal three-judge panel ruled Thursday that 34 state and federal district lines in Michigan are unconstitutionally gerrymandered to the benefit of Republicans. The decision comes as the Supreme Court contemplates a pair of cases from Maryland and North Carolina, which ask whether and how the…

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Supreme Court Hears Gerrymandering Case That Could Extensively Redraw the Ohio Electoral Map

The United States Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments Tuesday on a pair of cases that could lead to the Ohio electoral map being completely redrawn. The two cases, Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisekm, could both set precedents that could supersede a similar Ohio case making its way to…

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Ohio Republicans Fight for Current Congressional Map

A week into a trial that will determine if the Ohio congressional districts will be redrawn before the 2020 presidential election,  Ohio Republicans have the opportunity to defend their map. Monday, attorneys representing the Ohio Republicans began calling witnesses to testify that the current congressional map of Ohio was made in…

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Ohio Secretary of State: Redistricting Ohio Before 2020 Election Could ‘Hurt’ Voter Turnout

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose stated on Thursday that he was against Ohio redrawing its district lines before the 2020 presidential election. It was a statement that surprised many, considering he made it at a voting rights forum, hosted by the Ohio League of Women Voters who are currently suing…

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In Final Days as Attorney General, DeWine Files Motion to Dismiss Ohio Redistricting Lawsuit

Gov.-elect Mike DeWine (R-OH) appears to be making every last day of his tenure as Attorney General count. This week, DeWine filed a motion to have an upcoming gerrymandering lawsuit tossed out. The suit would mandate the redrawing of all of Ohio’s 16 congressional districts before the 2020 election. In May of…

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Supreme Court Lets Contested District Maps In Texas, NC Remain In Effect

SCOTUS, North Carolina, Texas

by Kevin Daley   The U.S. Supreme Court Monday cleared the way for Texas and North Carolina to use a set of contested legislative district lines, declining to side with plaintiffs who alleged the maps were gerrymandered for partisan or racial advantage. The decisions come one week after the high…

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