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Pennsylvania court tosses state's congressional map

Pennsylvania court tosses state's congressional map

On Monday, Pennsylvania's state Supreme Court dealt Republican gerrymandering a crippling blow when it struck down the GOP's congressional map for illegally discriminating against Democratic voters.

The confluence of challenges and court rulings concerning so-called partisan gerrymandering raises the political stakes on the eve of the 2018 midterm elections, when Republican control of Congress and many state legislatures is up for grabs.

The decision by the Pennsylvania court comes just a week after the U.S. Supreme Court delayed a lower court order in North Carolina that would have forced that state to redraw its congressional district as well.

The U.S. Supreme Court is already weighing whether to set a legal standard for partisan gerrymandering in two cases out of Wisconsin and Maryland. They said they'll petition the U.S. Supreme Court this week to halt the decision.

The judges demanded new maps by February 15 and threatened to design their own if state officials do not comply.

That new map, barring some intervening stay by another court, would be used for this spring's primary election.

"It's well established that the United States Supreme Court does not review decisions of state force that exclusively construe state law", attorney Stanton Jones said.

Pennsylvania's top court on Monday threw out the state's congressional map, ruling that Republican legislators unlawfully sought partisan advantage, and gave them three weeks to rework it in a decision that could boost Democratic chances of retaking the U.S. House of Representatives.

They moved entire areas and urban communities into various locale with an end goal to secure a Republican favorable position in the congressional appointment.

The Republican-controlled legislature has until February 9 to draw new districts.

Following the most recent redistricting, following the 2010 Census with Republican-drawn oversight, the 2014 congressional election, roughly 44 percent of voters were Democratic but two-thirds of the districts are filled by Republicans. There are still some unanswered questions, such as which population data the new maps should be based on. "The timeline is what the timeline is, even though we disagree".

The court has issued new guidelines lawmakers are to follow when drawing the new legislative districts including "compact and contiguous territory; as almost equal in population as practicable; which does not divide any county, city, incorporated town, borough, township, or ward, except where necessary".

"We understand that they want lines that, dare I say, look neater", he said.

A proposal that would begin the process for a change to the state constitution to create an independent commission to draw the maps has stalled in the Legislature.

And in Pennsylvania, the people won a massive victory for fair maps and fair representation.

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