Senate GOP will seek stay to Pa. Supreme Court redistricting decision


While much of the political world's attention Monday was focused on whether Congress would figure a way to reopen the government, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court handed Democrats a big win.

The majority of justices gave the Republican-controlled legislature until February 9 to draw up a new plan for approval by Democratic Governor Tom Wolf or have the court do it for them.

Pennsylvania's Supreme Court struck down the state's congressional district map in a 4-3 decision issued today.

It gives the Republican-controlled Legislature until February 9 to pass a replacement and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf until February 15 to submit it to the court. It's possible Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf could veto the new map, which would put the job of refiguring it in the court's hands.

The court said the limits "obviously, clearly and discernably" damage the state's constitution, and blocked it from staying as a result for the 2018 races.

Democrats now hold just five of Pennsylvania's 18 House seats - despite the fact President Barack Obama carried the state twice, while President Donald Trump won it by less than one point in 2016.

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"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.

Democrats in the state, who are defending both the governor's mansion and a U.S. Senate seat, in addition to six U.S. House seats, also hailed the court's decision. District courts typically have been loathe to step into cases and rulings based on state Constitutions unless they are seen to violate the U.S. Constitution. The court is expected to rule by the end of June in both cases.

The state's congressional delegation is controlled by Republicans, 13-5, even though registered Democratic voters outnumber registered Republicans.

The case split the Pennsylvania Supreme Court largely along partisan lines. The nation's high court already halted a decision from a three-judge federal court panel that ordered North Carolina's Republican-drawn Congressional map reconfigured.

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.

One Democratic justice, Max Baer, agreed with the court majority that the map is illegal but said he would have delayed a new map until the 2020 election cycle to avoid "chaos". The court's order did not specify how the map runs afoul of the law but said a full opinion will be released in the future.