Friday, February 16, 2018

Gerrymandering Issue Now With PA Supreme Court

Raise your hand if you have NOT submitted a Congressional redistricting map to the PA Supreme Court.  
It almost seemed that way this week as Gov. Wolf rejected the plan Sen. Scarnati and Rep. Turzai submitted without legislative approval leaving the Court the job of drawing Pennsylvania Congressional districts.
Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) and House Majority Leader David Reed (R-Indian) said Thursday they both asked Gov. Wolf to petition the PA Supreme Court to allow the General Assembly and the Governor’s Office to work together to develop a new Congressional districts map, but he declined.
As a result, Sen. Corman said Gov. Wolf choose “chaos.”  
BTW “chaos” was a mild term compared to the Scarnati/Turzai reaction to Gov. Wolf’s rejection of their map which they called “absurd.”  Gov. Wolf responded by saying “elementary school students have the sophistication to draw a fair map.”  
Then, of course, 8th graders in a Quaker school near Philadelphia proved the Governor’s point saying it is not very hard.
So Gov. Wolf (near the midnight deadline Thursday) submitted his own map to the Court, along with Senate and House Democrats, and many others.  Even Lehigh Valley piano teacher  Amanda Holt, who was involved in 2011 challenges to Senate and House districts, submitted her own map.
Next week, the PA Supreme Court is expected to hear recommendations from its own redistricting expert-- Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford Professor-- and make a decision.
Sen. Corman said, while they will weigh all options, they will likely file a challenge in federal court to whatever map the PA Supreme Court comes up with based on what he called the Court “usurping” the authority of both the Legislative and Executive branches of government to draw Congressional districts.
Meanwhile Congressional candidates are in limbo, not knowing if they are even in the districts they announced to run in until this mess gets resolved.
The Department of State did push back the dates for circulating nominating petitions-- February 27 to March 20-- but that does not leave a lot of time to let federal legal challenges play out.
Lots of political energy being used up at the Capitol on this issue.
Stay tuned for more….
(Photo: The redistricting submission by the 5-year old daughter of Sen. Scarnati’s Chief of Staff Drew Crompton. (Not really submitted.))

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