The U.S. Supreme Court was right to let a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered redrawing of congressional districts in Pennsylvania proceed.
Justice Samuel Alito Jr. correctly rejected the request from Republican lawmakers to put on hold an order from the state Supreme Court intended to produce new congressional districts in the coming two weeks.
Alito, who handles emergency appeals from Pennsylvania, gave no reason for the decision, but generally the Supreme Court stays out of the way when a state’s highest court is interpreting its own state constitution.
Last month the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled to strike down the boundaries of the state’s 18 congressional districts.
The court ruled that the Republican-drawn map is unfair.
The old congressional map gave Republicans an unfair advantage in securing 13 of 18 seats in a state where registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans 5 to 4.
Republicans who controlled Pennsylvania’s Legislature and governor’s office following the 2010 census broke decades of geographical precedent when redrawing the map, producing contorted shapes.
Republican lawmakers shifted whole counties and cities into different districts in an effort to protect a Republican advantage in the congressional delegation. Republicans in the delegation grew from 12 to 13, even as Pennsylvania lost a seat to account for the state’s relatively slow population growth.
The decision could have broader national implications for GOP control of Congress, since only Texas, California and Florida send more Republicans to the U.S. House than Pennsylvania.
The decision comes after courts in North Carolina struck down racial and partisan gerrymandering. That was the first time a federal court had ruled a redistricting plan represented an unconstitutional gerrymander. The decision was stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court, which is already considering another partisan gerrymandering case from Wisconsin.
The ruling by both U.S. and Pennsylvania high courts is a victory against partisan gerrymandering.