- The Washington Times - Monday, February 19, 2018

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a new map for the state’s congressional districts Monday and analysts said it’s a “dream come true” for Democrats.

One evaluation said the state’s delegation to Congress, which stood at 13-5 in favor of the GOP after the 2016 election, could swing to 12-6 in favor of Democrats after November.

That would put national Democrats already far along in their quest to regain control of the House, where they need to net about two dozen seats.

Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, praised the new maps as balanced.

“For too long, Pennsylvania’s maps have represented politician’s interests instead of the people’s interests. That ends now,” he tweeted.

President Trump urged Pennsylvania’s GOP Tuesday morning to fight the new map in court with urgency.

“Hope Republicans in the Great State of Pennsylvania challenge the new “pushed” Congressional Map, all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “Your Original was correct! Don’t let the Dems take elections away from you so that they can raise taxes & waste money!”

The new map looks has a lot fewer squiggly lines drawn across it, as the justices worked to keep counties and communities in the same congressional districts. The old map, drawn by Republicans when they controlled the process ahead of the 2012 election, were replete with twists and turns that took one district through nine different counties.

The high court invalidated the old map as a violation of the state’s Constitution, arguing it diluted voters’ ability to have competitive races by packing Democrats into some districts while spreading the GOP out among others.

The old map created a 13-5 GOP advantage in the delegation, in a state that has one Democrat and one Republican U.S. senator, has traded the governorship back and forth and which had voted Democratic in every presidential election from 1992 through 2012.

The new map includes eight congressional districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 and 10 won by President Trump — and three of those 10 districts still give Democrats a “strong” chance of winning, Dave Wasserman, editor of the Cook Political Report, said in an analysis on Twitter.

“Overall, Dems have a good chance in up to 11 CDs & an outside chance at a 12th seat in Erie,” he said.

The state Supreme Court adopted the new maps in a 4-3 decision, ordering they be used in November’s elections.

The justices had given the GOP-controlled legislature less than a month to redraw the lines, and their attempt was rejected by the Democratic governor last week, leaving the court to jump in.

“It has become the judiciary’s duty to fashion an appropriate remedial districting plan, and this court has proceeded to prepare such a plan, a role which our court has full constitutional authority and responsibility to assume,” the justices said in the majority opinion.

They said everyday voters had to sit under the old unconstitutional maps was a violation of their rights.

Pennsylvania’s governor has promised the state would be ready to administer the new lines in time for this year’s election season.

Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor, one of the dissenters in Monday’s ruling, called the proceedings “extraordinary” and said he was stunned at how little time the court had given the political branches to work out a solution on their own.

“In these circumstances, the displacement to the judiciary of the political responsibility for redistricting — which is assigned to the General Assembly by the United States Constitution — appears to me to be unprecedented,” he wrote.

Yet another dissenting justice said while he agreed with the decision to impose new maps, he disagreed with rushing them for the 2018 election.

Adding to the complications is a special election looming next month in a district that will be completely overhauled in November.

Primary elections under the new map are slated for May 15, and the filing deadline is March 20, giving candidates about a month to figure out their plans.

With the new map substantially redrawing lines, it will mean some Republicans must decide which district to run in, if they seek reelection at all. Several Republicans have already said they wouldn’t run again, even before Monday’s ruling.


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