Federal Judges Won't Block Fix To Pennsylvania's Gerrymandered Congressional Map

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Pennsylvania Republicans suffered two more blows in their long efforts to block a new congressional map imposed by the state's high court, in legal actions that all but cleared the way for new districts that could benefit Democrats. Generally the justices stay out of the way when a state's highest court is interpreting its own state constitution.

Republicans hold 12 seats after Democrat Conor Lamb's surprise victory last week in a special election.

The Republicans in the federal lawsuit - eight Pennsylvania congressmen and two state senators - had asked the court to reuse the previous map, adopted in 2011, for one more election cycle while the new map was challenged in the courts.

In statements, Republican legislative leaders in Pennsylvania said they were disappointed by the rulings but reiterated their belief that the state Supreme Court had usurped the legislature's role.

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Political analysts say the changes in Pennsylvania might aid national Democrats in their attempt to flip the House from Republican control.

But it's worth looking at the results this map created; in the 2016 races, Republicans got 53% of the vote, and Democrats 45% in Congressional elections, which would mean Pennsylvania, all things being equal, would have sent a slight majority of Republicans to Congress.

Republicans have been fighting the new map because they believe it was created by partisan judges. Trump tweeted. "Don't let the Dems take elections away from you so that they can raise taxes & waste money!" It's not just bad news for the state GOP, either, but the GOP as a whole.

Up until Monday afternoon, there was still a lot of uncertainty over whether the new map would stand. "The people of Pennsylvania are exhausted of gerrymandering and the new map corrects past mistakes that created unfair Congressional Districts and attempted to diminish the impact of citizens' votes".

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But those who challenged the 2011 map as an improper partisan gerrymander said the state was making arguments the U.S. Supreme Court already has rejected.

The Pennsylvania case is Turzai v. League of Women Voters, 17A909.

In fact, Tuesday is the deadline for candidates to get their petitions filed with signatures to get on the ballot.

Pennsylvania election officials have said changing the process again would require postponing the primaries and could cost the commonwealth $20 million. The eight Republican congressmen, the judges wrote, may have wasted resources campaigning in their old districts, but they can not prove that was caused by a violation of the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause.

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