State and local Democrats celebrated after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided to throw out the state’s congressional map on Monday.
In a 4-3 decision, the state court determined that Pennsylvania’s Congressional District map was unconstitutional and gave an edge to Republicans who are currently in control of the legislature.
Earlier this month, a judicial panel in Philadelphia ruled the state was able to keep its original congressional map and rejected arguments from Democrats who said 18 districts were unfairly tailored to Republicans.
“I am very pleased with the court’s decision. I have long been concerned and troubled by the impact that Pennsylvania’s heavily gerrymandered districts ultimately have on public policy,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “We need to continue working to ensure that districts are drawn fairly at all levels of government. This decision by the Supreme Court is an important step towards that critical goal.”
The court has given the General Assembly until Feb. 9 to draw out new districts on the map. By Feb. 15, Gov. Tom Wolf will have to submit it to the court.
The ruling would block the map’s effectiveness for 2018 elections.
The primary election on May 15 is supposed to stay on course.
With the crackdown on the map, there are now currently 14 members of Congress and people running or considering a bid in districts that they now may not be living in.
The deadline to file paperwork for congressional seats in Pennsylvania this year is March 6.
“I welcome this decision to require a map that would ensure Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation better reflects what the voters of this state actually want, rather than the current distorted map that has given Republicans 13 of our 18 U.S. House seats for much of the past decade and helped contribute to extremism and dysfunction in Washington,” said state Rep. Donna Bullock (D-Phila). “Gerrymandering often marginalizes the voices of communities of color and as this process proceeds, it will be important to address that.”
State Rep. Jason Dawkins (D-Phila.) described the state’s supreme court decision as “an important step in the right direction” and is looking to bring an end to gerrymandering in districts throughout the state.
“Pennsylvania’s state congressional map has been used across the nation as an example of extreme gerrymandering, and I am pleased to see that our commonwealth’s highest court recognizes this obvious bias,” he said. “Now, we must move forward and take the needed steps to ensure that all Pennsylvanians are given the fair representation they are entitled to receive.”
City Council President Darrell Clarke described gerrymandering as the “symptom of a disease in our politics” and that “too many Pennsylvania members of Congress have spent these last stressful months hiding away from the people.”
Clarke believes the court made the right decision.
“As the elected leader of Philadelphia City Council, which I believe is the most accessible and transparent legislative body in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it is stunning to see so many elected representatives refuse to meet with constituents on matters of life and death, whether it be health care access or immigration status,” said Clarke.
“No elected official should go one month, let alone one year, without making themselves available to constituents in a public forum or meeting. Yet, that is exactly how members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation, who are entrusted with the power of the public purse, have conducted themselves over the past year.