Pennsylvania Supreme Court Takes Over Redistricting Proceedings

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Wednesday took over proceedings to choose the state’s new congressional map.

The court granted an emergency application asking for its intervention “given the impasse between the legislative and executive branches concerning the adoption of congressional districts, and in view of the impact that protracted appeals will have on the election calendar, and time being of the essence,” the court’s order said.

Judge Patricia McCullough (R), who had been presiding over the map-choosing proceedings in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, was designated as a special master to recommend a redistricting plan and a revised election schedule to the higher court by Monday, the order said.

A hearing on any objections to McCullough’s decision by the lawmakers, advocacy groups, and individual voters who are parties to the case is scheduled for Feb. 18.

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While the lower court acted “expeditiously” to act on a new map, a lengthy appeal period “reduces the scant days available” to produce a map in time for candidates to prepare for a May 17 primary, Chief Justice Max Baer (D) wrote in a concurring statement.

Justice Kevin Dougherty (D) wrote a separate concurring statement.

In a dissenting statement, Justice Sallie Mundy (R) said she favored “regularity in the appellate proceedings, which can be expedited, as opposed to exercising this Court’s extraordinary jurisdiction at this juncture.” Justice Kevin Brobson joined Mundy’s dissent.

The Commonwealth Court heard arguments last week for over a dozen congressional map proposals submitted by lawmakers, advocacy groups, and citizens.

Pennsylvania’s courts are deciding the state’s next congressional map because the Republican-led state legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf (D) couldn’t agree on a redistricting plan.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer Kay in Miami at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tina May at

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