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PA Supreme Court Redraws Congressional Districts, Without Legislators

           2/21/2018

New Pennslvaynia District Map

On February 19th, 2018, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled to redraw its state voting district lines to create a more “fair” map whose districts better represent the interests of its voters.

The new map has less than half the county splits than the old one, something seen as a positive, for keeping ethnically and ideologically alike voters together. If the 2016 Presidential Election was held under the new map, Trump would still have won by 2 districts, as opposed to the 6 he won under the old one. This dispels the idea that Republican victories are the sole result of unfair map manipulation, as some sources would suggest, but also highlights the issue of whether or not voting districts are being changed for the purposes keeping the current parties in power.

This is especially relevant when it comes to electing members to Congress. With a strong correlation between a district support for a party’s presidential candidate and congressional candidate, it’s likely for Pennsylvania to see more Democrats in both its own legislative chamber and the national congress.

In fact, the new districts will give Pennsylvania Democrats a distinct advantage, especially in places where the suburbs and populous areas are now kept together.

And while Democrats lauded the new changes, it was condemned by Republicans all the way up to President Trump himself.

Republican lawmakers and consultants have accused the courts of subverting the responsibilities of the Legislature, and claim that the gerrymander has gone the other way, unfairly favoring Democrats. Trump echoed these accusations, tweeting “Your Original was correct! Don’t let the Dems take elections away from you.” There is little that can be done to challenge the Supreme Court’s decision, however.

The only reason the new districts were decided by the Supreme Court and not the Legislature, is because the Legislature and Governor could not come to an agreement before the deadline, February 15th (which may have been what the governor was aiming for).

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