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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New District Lines Give Republicans Partisan Edge in Pennsylvania’s Seventh Congressional District

The newly enacted district lines give Republicans a partisan edge in Pennsylvania’s new 7th Congressional District.

The new 7th district has a partisan rating of R+4, according to Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight. Prior to the Democrat-controlled Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s selection of the new district lines, PA-7 had an even partisan rating.

The Cook Political Report rates the race for the seat as a tossup.

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Ruling Prompts Pennsylvania Senate Legislation to Limit Court’s Redistricting Power

Senator David G. Argall

One day after Wednesday’s Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision imposing a Democrat-favored congressional map, state Senator David Argall (R-Mahanoy City) is legislating to limit similar future rulings.

Argall, who chairs the Senate State Government Committee, has asked colleagues to cosponsor a measure disallowing any congressional-district plan ordered by a court to remain in effect after the election cycle for which it was enacted.

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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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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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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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New Congressional Map Passes Pennsylvania Senate; Wolf’s Veto Anticipated

A proposed congressional map passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives earlier this month passed the state Senate unchanged on Monday, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed.

In urging colleagues to approve the redistricting plan, Senate State Government Committee Majority Chairman David Argall (R-Mahanoy City) emphasized that the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has insisted on enactment of a new map by January 30. The court has indicated it will select a map if Gov. Tom Wolf (D) does not sign one by that date. 

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Pennsylvania Legislature Must Pass, and Governor Must Sign, Congressional Map Monday to Meet Department’s Deadline

Pennsylvania’s Republican-led state Senate and Gov. Tom Wolf (D) must approve a congressional map Monday in order to meet a deadline set by the Pennsylvania Department of State.

Last summer, then-Secretary of the Commonwealth Veronica Degraffenried (D) announced that her department wanted new congressional districts enacted before January 24 so election officials and candidates may adequately prepare for the May 17, 2022 primaries. Lawmakers redesign districts every decade according to population changes reflected in U.S. Census data, whose release last year stalled several months owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Population trends dictate that the Keystone State will lose one congressional district out of its present eighteen. 

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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 Pass a Mostly Citizen-Drawn Congressional Map

Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives yesterday passed a new congressional map, though without the support of any Democrats and with indications of disapproval from Gov. Tom Wolf (D). 

Two southeastern Republican representatives, Chris Quinn (Media) and Todd Stephens (Horsham) joined the Democrats in opposition. The plan must pass the GOP-led state Senate and receive the governor’s signature to go into effect this year.

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Pennsylvania Courts Deal Blows to Progressives on Election Review and Redistricting

Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court green-lighted the state Senate Republicans’ election probe this week; the state Supreme Court has meanwhile declined to take up the remapping of congressional districts. 

As a result of the Commonwealth Court’s ruling, the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee may proceed with its subpoenas of voter records. The Supreme Court’s decision means Gov. Tom Wolf (D) will likely have to work out a compromise with the Republican state legislature on congressional reapportionment.

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Pennsylvania House Committee Passes Bills to Reform Redistricting and Elections, Democrats Demur

Seth Grove

Yesterday, a Pennsylvania House of Representatives panel passed a series of redistricting and election reforms, including a bill establishing a citizens’ commission for redrawing legislative districts.

The redistricting bill, sponsored by Rep. Seth Grove (R-PA-York), chair of the House State Government Committee which vetted the measure, would ditch the current process for creating legislative-district maps. Such maps are drawn anew every decade in response to population shifts revealed by the U.S. Census. Presently, a five-member Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC), made up of Republican and Democratic leaders from both state-legislative chambers and chaired by an appointee of the state Supreme Court, oversees district remapping.

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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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Pennsylvania Secretary of State Suggests in Lawsuit Response That Court Should Draw Congressional Districts

Veronica Degraffenreid

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid (D), in answering a lawsuit concerning congressional redistricting Monday, indicated interest in having the state Supreme Court once again redraw district lines.

Petitioners have complained of an impasse between the Gov. Tom Wolf (D) and the GOP-led General Assembly on creating new districts and Degraffenreid’s attorneys have suggested agreement on the plaintiffs’ suggestion that Pennsylvania’s high court must finally decide.

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Pennsylvania Commission’s Redistricting Proposals Draw Ire for Gerrymandering

PA State Rep. Bryan Cutler

After years of Pennsylvania Democrats excoriating Republicans for gerrymandering, the 2021 Legislative Reapportionment Commission’s state-level redistricting proposals are drawing ire from members of both parties.

Republicans have broadly opposed the preliminary redistricting plan for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and at least one Senate Democrat, Lisa Boscola (Bethlehem), is incensed about changes to her chamber’s map.

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Pennsylvania Bill Would Clarify That Courts Can’t Redraw Electoral Maps, as State Supreme Court Did in 2018

Legislation currently in the works in the Pennsylvania General Assembly would spell out two rules for redistricting in the Keystone State: Elections cannot legally take place in outdated districts and courts can’t create new districts themselves.

In Feb. 2018, the Democrat-controlled Pennsylvania Supreme Court not only struck down Pennsylvania’s congressional maps as unconstitutionally gerrymandered, it reimposed new maps created with no input from the legislature, something state law does not grant the court the right to do. The new maps strongly favored the Democrats’ electoral prospects.

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