Pennsylvania Congressional Map Dispute Appealed to Supreme Court
- Pennsylvania should hold at-large elections, motion says
- State Supreme Court chose map from citizens’ submissions
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Pennsylvania Republicans want the U.S. Supreme Court to block the congressional map chosen by their state’s highest court and require statewide at-large elections until lawmakers enact a new redistricting plan.
The emergency motion filed Monday also asks that a court-imposed elections calendar be blocked.
“A belated injunction that pronounces the congressional map unconstitutional after the candidates have gathered the needed signatures and organized their campaigns in reliance on the court-selected map will lead to chaos,” wrote attorneys for two Republican congressional candidates and other plaintiffs.
Pennsylvania’s action followed a similar move Feb. 25 by lawyers for the North Carolina General Assembly, which asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block a new congressional map approved by the state’s courts.
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In Pennsylvania, the map decision went to court because Republican lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf (D) couldn’t agree on a redistricting plan. The map the justices chose was among more than a dozen submitted from lawmakers, advocacy groups, and citizens.
Because there is no longer time for the Pennsylvania General Assembly to enact a new congressional map by the 2022 elections, the courts must order at-large elections, the attorneys said.
“The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is constitutionally forbidden to ‘modify’ a congressional primary calendar that the legislature has prescribed, and it cannot remedy the legislature’s failure to enact a new congressional map by disrupting the election process rather than ordering at-large elections,” the attorneys said.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s choosing a map is unconstitutional because the court isn’t part of the state’s legislature, and it’s selection violates the equal-population rule with districts that contain two-person deviations, they said.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Sets Congressional District Lines
The plaintiffs are represented by Jonathan Mitchell of Mitchell Law PLLC, Walter Zimolong III of Zimolong LLC, and Gene Hamilton, vice president and general counsel of the America First Legal Foundation.
Pennsylvania will have 17 U.S. House seats beginning in January after losing one because of population shifts over the past decade. The configuration chosen by the Pennsylvania court in a 4–3 decision sets up as many as five swing seats. Of the other 12 districts, six have a decidedly Republican lean, and six tilt toward the Democrats.
In addition to setting the congressional district boundaries, the court’s order maintained the state’s May 17 primary, but it changed the deadlines for candidates in statewide and congressional races to file petitions. Those candidates now have until March 15 to file that paperwork to get on the ballot.
The case is Toth v. Chapman, U.S., No. 21A457, 2/28/22
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