The Pennsylvania state legislature has produced a new map for the state’s congressional districts, after the state Supreme Court concluded the old map unlawfully favored Republicans over Democrats.
Though GOP leaders are confident the new map will pass legal muster, they must secure the approval of the state’s Democratic governor, Gov. Tom Wolf. If the governor and the legislature cannot agree on a new map by Feb. 15, the state Supreme Court will generate its own. Democratic appointees have a 5-2 majority on the court.
Republicans currently control 13 on the state’s 18 congressional districts. Pennsylvania Democrats claim the new map does not substantially alter this status quo. President Donald Trump won 12 of the 18 districts in the 2016 presidential election, becoming the first Republican to carry the state since 1988.
Wolf will review the new map over the weekend, though Democrats in the statehouse urged him to reject the proposal, claiming Republican legislators drew the new lines without outside consultations. The GOP counters that their proposal conforms to relevant court orders.
“The districts are compact,” Drew Compton, a Republican legislature aide involved in drawing the new map told The Associated Press. “The districts limit splits dramatically. The districts comply with the Voting Rights Act. Confusion for voters has been minimized.”
“The Republican legislative leaders in the House and Senate have agreed to a congressional district map that complies fully with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s order and opinion,” GOP leaders said in a joint statement.
The Supreme Court declined to overturn the Pennsylvania court’s order on Feb. 5.
The justices are currently considering the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering. That case, Gill v. Whitford, arose from Wisconsin, where Democrats argue the state legislature district lines are skewed in favor of Republicans. A decision is expected by June.
The ongoing overhaul is a boon to national Democrats, who are likely to pick up seats in Congress under a new map.
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