5 things to know: Pennsylvania's latest congressional district map
Republicans are promising to sue as early as Wednesday to try to stop the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's congressional district map from going into effect. The court released its map Monday after the Republican-controlled General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf failed to agree on a new map by a deadline the court imposed after ruling that the map used in recent elections was unconstitutionally gerrymandered . The map determines the boundary lines for Pennsylvania's 18 U.S. House districts, 13 of which are held by Republicans.
How did we get here?
The court ruled Jan. 22 in favor of registered Democrats and the League of Women Voters, who claimed in a lawsuit that a 2011 map was unfairly drawn to favor Republicans. The Democrat-majority court said the map "clearly, plainly and palpably" violates the state constitution, undermining free and equal elections. The court set a Feb. 9 deadline for the Legislature to pass a replacement, but did not release its full opinion until two days before the deadline. Two Republican leaders in the state House and Senate created a map and submitted it to the court, saying the court didn't give them enough time to hold a vote. Gov. Tom Wolf rejected that map and submitted his own a week later. The court rejected both maps.
How did the court arrive at its map?
Stanford law professor Nathan Persily advised the court on its maps, according to NPR affiliate WITF . Persily has advised judges on maps in New York, Connecticut, North Carolina, Georgia and Maryland in redistricting cases, according to the station.
How will this affect elections?
Incumbents announced they aren't running in six House seats in Pennsylvania this year, creating the most openings in decades. The court ordered for the maps to be in place by May 15 primary elections. The changes won't affect the March 13 special election in Southwestern Pennsylvania's 18th District, but the court's map would put candidates Rick Saccone, a Republican from Elizabeth, and Conor Lamb, a Democrat from Mt. Lebanon, into two different districts. According to a Washington Post analysis , the court's map would create eight districts where a majority of voters voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, and 10 districts where the majority voted for Donald Trump.
What happens next?
State and national Republicans have said their legal challenge will focus not on the composition of the court's map but the court's authority to impose new legislative districts, which the U.S. Constitution delegates to state legislatures. A National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman said in a statement that the court's decision created "chaos, confusion and unnecessary expense in the 2018 election cycle." The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up an appeal from Pennsylvania Republicans of the state Supreme Court's decision. The NRCC spokesman said the lawsuit will be filed in federal court.
Has the president weighed in?
President Trump posted a tweet Tuesday supporting Republicans' lawsuit:
Hope Republicans in the Great State of Pennsylvania challenge the new "pushed" Congressional Map, all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary. Your Original was correct! Don't let the Dems take elections away from you so that they can raise taxes & waste money!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2018
Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5676, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @wesventeicher.