Pennsylvania high court to decide congressional district map

Feb 1, 2022, 10:47 PM | Updated: Feb 2, 2022, 1:17 pm

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s Democratic-majority Supreme Court wrested control Wednesday of choosing new district lines for the state’s shrinking congressional delegation, a process that deadlocked the governor and Legislature.

The five Democratic justices issued an order directing a lower judge to give them a report by Monday that recommends a new map, along with her legal and factual findings that support it.

It’s the second time in four years the state’s high court has stepped in to direct congressional districting in the politically polarized state, and the latest example around the country of state courts potentially giving Democrats a boost in highly charged battles over redistricting.

Chief Justice Max Baer, a Democrat, said the court was stepping in to move the process more quickly.

“The threat of any appeal period from the Commonwealth Court decision to this court reduces the scant days available for this court to obtain briefs, study this complex and important matter, and render a decision,” Baer wrote, noting the pressures of the state’s elections calendar.

The decision came after Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a proposed map that passed the Republican-majority Legislature on nearly party lines.

Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough, a Republican, will serve as a “special master.” Parties in the redistricting case she has been handling who object to her report can do so before the Supreme Court by Feb. 14. Oral arguments will occur Feb. 18.

Signature-gathering for petitions to get on the May 17 primary ballot is scheduled to begin Feb. 15 but may be delayed. Both Republicans on the Supreme Court dissented.

Justice Sallie Mundy, a Republican, said she would prefer to let McCullough render a decision and opinion and then expedite an appeal, rather than have the court exercise its jurisdiction at this point.

The court majority said it was acting because of the impasse between Wolf and the General Assembly, adding that they see “time being of the essence.” McCullough also was directed to give the justices a proposal to revise election deadlines.

Democrats last week asked the Supreme Court to take over the process from McCullough, arguing that its own precedent holds that the Supreme Court should select a new map when the executive and legislative branches are deadlocked, not a lower court judge.

Democrats had argued that it would go against that precedent to allow McCullough to issue an order adopting a particular map that she selects. Rather, they said, the court should follow its 1992 precedent, when it appointed a Commonwealth Court judge as a special master to provide a recommendation to the state Supreme Court.

Comparatively slow population growth over the past decade has cost Pennsylvania a congressional seat, so the new map must account for a drop in the delegation from 18 to 17.

In Ohio, the state Supreme Court struck down aggressively pro-Republican maps drawn by the GOP-controlled Legislature, ruling they violated a 2018 ballot measure against partisan gerrymandering.

North Carolina’s Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a case in which Democrats and civil rights groups argue that state’s GOP-drawn maps violate their state constitution’s prohibition on drawing lines to benefit one party.

And a federal court last month ordered Alabama Republicans to draw a congressional map with a second congressional district in which Black voters could choose their representative, which would likely net Democrats a new seat in the deeply conservative state.

In Pennsylvania, justices in 2018 threw out a Republican-crafted map that had produced a durable 13-5 GOP advantage in congressional seats. The court replaced it with a map that has since produced nine Republican and nine Democratic members of Congress from Pennsylvania.

___

Associated Press writer Nicholas Riccardi in Denver contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

This image released by Netflix shows Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth in "The Crown." (Alex Baile...
Associated Press

‘The Crown’ back Nov. 9 for season 5 with new queen, Diana

LOS ANGELES (AP) — “The Crown” will return to its Netflix throne in early November. The drama series about Queen Elizabeth II and her extended family will begin its fifth season on Nov. 9, the streaming service said Saturday. The debut will come two months after the queen’s Sept. 8 death at the age of […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Pharoah Sanders, influential jazz saxophonist, dies at 81

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Pharoah Sanders, the influential tenor saxophonist revered in the jazz world for the spirituality of his work, has died, his record label announced. He was 81. Sanders, also known for his extensive work alongside John Coltrane in the 1960s, died in Los Angeles early Saturday, said the tweet from Luaka Bop, […]
1 day ago
Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi acknowledges the audience applause after addressing the 77th sess...
Associated Press

China on Taiwan: ‘External interference’ won’t be tolerated

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — China underscored its commitment Saturday to its claim to Taiwan, telling world leaders that anyone who gets in the way of its determination to reunify with the self-governing island would be “crushed by the wheels of history.” The language was forceful but, for Chinese leadership, well within the realm of normal. […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Crowded campsites, high demand cause fights, ‘camp pirates’

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Some Oregon parks officials say high demand for crowded campsites is leading to arguments, fistfights and even so-called “campsite pirates.” Brian Carroll with Linn County Parks and Recreation said park rangers have had to play mediator this summer as would-be campers argue over first-come, first-served campsites at Sunnyside County Park, the […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Police in Laos seize meth pills in one of biggest busts

BANGKOK (AP) — Authorities in Laos have made their third largest seizure ever of methamphetamine, confiscating a haul of 33 million tablets along with 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) of crystal methamphetamine, an official with the U.N. anti-crime agency said Saturday. The huge bust came after 200,000 tablets were found Friday night in a truck that […]
1 day ago
A Police officer detains a demonstrator during a protest against a partial mobilization in Moscow, ...
Associated Press

Russian police block mobilization protests, arrest hundreds

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian police moved quickly Saturday to disperse peaceful protests against President Vladimir Putin’s military mobilization order, arresting hundreds, including some children, in several cities across the vast country. Police detained more than 700 people, including over 300 in Moscow and about 150 in St. Petersburg, according to OVD-Info, an independent website that […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Pennsylvania high court to decide congressional district map