Pennsylvania Republican legislators sue to block revised district maps

Pennsylvania Republican legislators sue to block revised district maps

A group of ten Republican legislators filed suit [complaint, PDF] on Thursday seeking to prevent the new congressional map [JURIST report] issued by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania [official website] from taking effect.

The suit, filed in the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania [official website], asserts that the state Supreme Court violated the federal Constitution’s Election Clause [Art. I § 4 text] by striking down [JURIST report] the 2011 district map “based upon its purported violation of ‘mandatory’ districting criteria found nowhere within Pennsylvania’s Constitution or legislative enactments.” The legislators also allege that the state legislature was not afforded “adequate opportunity” to pass new districting legislation, as the state Supreme Court’s order allowed only 18 days for legislative action before the court would issue its own maps. The complaint notes that the order was not accompanied by a majority opinion explaining the court’s rationale.

[T]he Pennsylvania Supreme Court did not issue its Majority Opinion – and the guidance contained therein as to the parameters it would use to adjudicate constitutionality – until February 7, 2018. … As a result, the General Assembly did not know the criteria that any new Congressional districting plan would have to satisfy to be constitutional until only 2 days before the General Assembly was required to pass legislation containing that plan.

The plaintiffs are asking the federal court to enjoin enforcement of the new maps and to order that November 2018 elections be conducted under the 2011 redistricting plan.

The suit was filed by two state senators, Majority Leader Jake Corman, Government Committee Chair Michael Folmer, and eight federal congressman, Lou Barletta, Ryan Costello, Mike Kelly, Tom Marino, Scott Perry, Keith Rothfus, Lloyd Smucker and Glenn Thompson [official websites]. The suit will be heard by a three judge panel under a federal law [28 U.S.C. § 2284] that applies “when an action is filed challenging the constitutionality of the apportionment of congressional districts or the apportionment of any statewide legislative body.”

This suit at the federal district court will proceed independent of the request to stay [JURIST report] the new district map filed on Wednesday at the US Supreme Court [official website] by a different group of Republican legislators.