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Pennsylvania Republicans lose challenge to redrawn congressional map

20 March, 2018, 04:21 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • New Pa. congressional district map upheld for now as federal judges dismiss Republican lawsuit

The state's Republican legislative leaders had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block the map, while eight Republican Congress members and two Republican state lawmakers separately filed a federal lawsuit in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, seeking the same remedy.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a plea from top Republicans to block the map imposed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in February, after that court found the GOP had unlawfully distorted state districts to boost its electoral prospects.

The decision does not end litigation over the matter, but it makes it much more likely that this year's congressional elections in Pennsylvania will be conducted under district lines widely viewed as more favorable to Democrats than a 2011 map the state court threw out in January.

This is a developing story.

All five Democrats on the state Supreme Court said the map violated the state constitution, but one of the Democrats joined both Republicans in objecting to the majority's determination to enact a new map for this year's races. "These are things that, on the present record, we can not do". A special election for an open congressional seat last week did not use the revised maps.

The state Supreme Court, in a 4-3 split, set one deadline for the legislature to submit a new map for consideration and another deadline for Democratic Gov. Wolf to review it.

Political analysts say the changes in Pennsylvania might aid national Democrats in their attempt to flip the House from Republican control.

The judges on the high court also refused to get involved.

About 90 minutes later, the U.S. Supreme Court dealt what could be a final blow to the republican lawmaker efforts.

Several GOP lawmakers found their House districts dramatically affected by the new map, including Rep. Ryan Costello, who is considering retirement, several state and national officials in GOP politics told ABC News. Since the old map's implementation in 2011, Republicans have won 13 out of Pennsylvania's 18 districts, despite never gaining more than 55 percent of the vote.

The state Supreme Court had just a month earlier tossed out the previous congressional map, saying it was created to favor Republicans and violated the state constitution.

In a brief urging the United States Supreme Court not to intercede, lawyers for Mr. Wolf wrote that there were practical reasons to let the state court's rulings stand. They wanted the new map put on hold while they pursued an appeal to the nation's highest court. The argument that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stepped on the legislature's rights should be brought by the General Assembly as an institution, they wrote. That appeal could go to the U.S. Supreme Court.



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