Republicans ‘got greedy’ in drawing Pennsylvania congressional maps, new documents say

Claudia Vargas | Thursday, January 9, 2020, The Philadelphia Inquirer

A trove of documents recently released by the daughter of a deceased GOP strategist includes some clues about what Republicans were thinking almost a decade ago when they redrew Pennsylvania’s congressional maps in a way that was later ruled unconstitutional.

The documents, compiled at least partly amid the decennial redistricting that took place in 2011, include a warning that the party “got greedy” in an attempt to create districts favorable to GOP candidates 10 years earlier.

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U.S. Supreme Court punts on gerrymandering — what does that mean for Pa.?

Jonathan Lai | Monday, June 18, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer

The U.S. Supreme Court ducked the chance to rule on the issue of partisan gerrymandering Monday, returning two meaty cases to lower courts on narrow procedural grounds. By not taking up the broader question of when partisan gerrymandering violates the constitution, the justices left the status quo in place.

“This was the ultimate in punting,” said Joshua A. Douglas, a law professor at the University of Kentucky and expert on election law.

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With new map, Pennsylvania fields busy US House primaries

Marc Levy | Sunday, April 29, 2018, The Associated Press

DILLSBURG, Pa. (AP) — George Scott got the inevitable question a half-hour into a meet-the-candidate house party in the rolling hills of south-central Pennsylvania: How will you inspire all those people in the congressional district who put up Donald Trump signs in 2016?

“Really good question,” said Scott, a Democrat, to anxious laughter around the room, before answering.

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Pennsylvania redistricting – the next fight. Reform proposals get aired in Senate committee

Charles Thompson | Wednesday, March 27, 2018, The Patriot News

Pennsylvania has its new Congressional maps, thanks to a ferocious and politically-tinged court battle.

Now, the question is, can people on the different sides of that fight come together on a better way to draw them up, and district maps for the state House and Senate, in the future?

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Pa. Republican state legislator moves to impeach four state Supreme Court justices

Liv Navratil | Tuesday, March 20, 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

HARRISBURG — One day after federal courts declined to block the new congressional map from taking effect, a Republican state representative introduced resolutions to impeach the four Democrats on Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court who ruled to impose the map in time for the May 15 primary.

Rep. Cris Dush, of Jefferson County, introduced the measures against Justices Christine Donohue, Kevin Dougherty, Debra Todd and David Wecht.

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U.S. Supreme Court, 3-judge panel dismiss GOP challenges to Pa.’s new congressional district map

Brian Bowling | Monday, March 19, 2018, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Pennsylvania’s new congressional map will likely stand in the May primary election and beyond after Republicans on Monday lost two critical court challenges.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito denied a motion by House and Senate leaders to stay a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that replaced the state’s 2011 map with the new one.

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Hearing looms on Pennsylvania congressional redistricting issue

Brian Bowling | Monday, March 5, 2018, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

The only certainty in the congressional redistricting case is that Republicans lose if they can’t persuade a three-judge panel to grant a preliminary injunction, said Bruce Ledewitz, a Duquesne University law professor.

The federal judges are scheduled to hear arguments Friday in Harrisburg.

A preliminary injunction stops one side from taking an action while the other pursues its legal challenge. In this case, Republicans want to bar the administration of Gov. Tom Wolf from implementing a state Supreme Court ruling that overturned a 2011 congressional map for Pennsylvania drawn by GOP lawmakers.

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Gov. Wolf urges court to stick with new congressional map

Tuesday, February 27, 2018, Associated Press

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s governor and elections officials urged the state’s highest court on Monday to stand by its throwing out a congressional district map on constitutional grounds and establishing new district boundaries.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and two Department of State officials responded to a request by Republican legislative leaders to put on hold the week-old district map.

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Pa.’s Republican legislative leaders seek to block new Congressional map

Charles Thompson | Wednesday, February 21, 2018, The Patriot

Pennsylvania’s Republican legislative leaders have gone back to the U.S. Supreme Court with one last appeal for a stay that would block use of a new Congressional district map for the 2018 elections.

The new map was set down Monday by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, after an extraordinary legal battle that’s turned into a proxy war over high-tech partisan gerrymandering by the major political parties.

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Court-imposed redistricting map changes boundaries for millions of Pennsylvanians

Natasha Lindstrom | Monday, February 19, 2018, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Millions of Pennsylvanians could find themselves voting in new congressional districts as soon as May under a new map imposed Monday by the state Supreme Court.

Gov. Tom Wolf and fellow Democrats lauded the decision by the state’s high court to throw out the 2011 map drawn by the GOP-controlled Legislature for demonstrating partisan gerrymandering, or drawing district boundaries to favor one party over another.

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A reluctant Pa. legislature settles in for a map-making cram session

Charles Thompson | Tuesday, February 6, 2018, Harrisburg Patriot News

Backed into a corner after weeks of hand-to-hand legal combat, majority Republicans in the Pennsylvania Legislature are reluctantly setting about drawing a new Congressional map.

Top Senate and House staffers said Tuesday their leaders have resigned themselves to try to comply with a Jan. 22 state Supreme Court order that ruled the current boundaries of Pennsylvania’s 18 U.S. House districts unconstitutional due to extreme partisan gerrymandering.

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Panel discusses how to redraw state’s congressional districts so races are more competitive

Natasha Lindstrom | Thursday, February 1, 2018, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

When Gov. Tom Wolf won the Democratic primary in 2014, less than 20 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot.

“That’s not a democracy,” Wolf said Thursday afternoon in Pittsburgh during a panel discussion on redrawing Pennsylvania’s congressional districts.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport,” continued Wolf, noting he earned his Ph.D. in political science and studied voting patterns demonstrating decades of declines, particularly in nonpresidential and midyear elections.

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Pa. legislative leaders take redistricting case to U.S. Supreme Court

Charles Thompson | Wednesday, January 24, 2018, Harrisburg Patriot News

The two presiding officers of the Pennsylvania General Assembly have filed an emergency application with nation’s top court Thursday for relief from an 11th-hour state court order to redraw the state’s 18 congressional districts.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson County, and Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny County, filed the motion.

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State Supreme Court rules Pennsylvania congressional map is illegal

Jonathan Lai | Monday, January 22, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Monday that the state’s congressional map “clearly, plainly and palpably” violates the state constitution and blocked its use from the May 2018 primaries.

A group of Democratic voters had brought the challenge, saying the 18 U.S. House of Representatives districts were drawn as an unconstitutional gerrymander that discriminates against Democrats.

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Federal judges rule in favor of Pennsylvania Republicans in gerrymandering case

Michaelle Bond | Wednesday, January 10, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer

PHILADELPHIA — A panel of federal judges Wednesday effectively upheld Pennsylvania’s often-criticized congressional district map, declining to take up a novel challenge that sought to have it declared unconstitutional as gerrymandered to favor the party in power.

In a 2-1 decision, the judges said that specific challenge was not for them to decide.

Plaintiffs in Agre v. Wolf, led by a Democratic ward leader from Philadelphia, had hoped to use the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution to argue that any amount of partisanship in drawing the state’s congressional maps was illegal.

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Expert sees partisanship in Pennsylvania congressional maps

Johnathan Lai | Monday, December 11, 2017, The Philadelphia Inquirer

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s congressional map is so skewed toward Republicans that computer software tasked with randomly drawing maps produced hundreds of drawings that were more politically neutral, according to testimony Monday on the opening day of a state gerrymandering trial.

“Partisan intent predominated the drawing” of the current congressional map, said University of Michigan political science professor Jowei Chen, an expert witness testifying for the group of Pennsylvania voters bringing the challenge.

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Inside the gerrymandering data top Pa. Republicans fought to keep private

Jonathan Lai | Friday, December 8, 2017, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Republican lawmakers used detailed data on the partisan leanings of voters when they created the current Pennsylvania congressional map, according to documents federal judges had ordered them to turn over in a trial that began this week.

Lawyers for House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati had fought to keep private a trove of documents as they prepared for the trial, which began Monday in Philadelphia. They also sought to block the documents in a separate, state gerrymandering trial that begins next week in Harrisburg.

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Pa. high court fast tracks gerrymandering case

Maddie Hanna and Jonathan Lai | Thursday, November 9, 2017, The Philadelphia Inquirer

In a case that could force the redrawing of congressional maps before the 2018 elections, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the Commonwealth Court to decide a gerrymandering lawsuit by the end of the year.

“We will have our day in court, and we will get a decision and a resolution of this matter in time for the 2018 election,” said Mimi McKenzie, legal director of the Philadelphia-based Public Interest Law Center, which represents the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania in the case.

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