Lawsuit challenges Pennsylvania map of US House districts

A map of Pennsylvania's 18 congressional districts following the 2012 redistricting

A map of Pennsylvania's 18 congressional districts following the 2012 redistricting

Gerrymandering refers to manipulating voting district lines to benefit a party. The suit claims Reading was carved out of the district to make it safe for Republicans.Reading was then added to the staunchly Republican 16th District where "the votes of Democratic voters are virtually certain never to matter", the suit says.The lawsuit aims to change this by forcing the state to redraw the maps.

A group of Pennsylvania voters, lead by the League of Women Voters, wants to stop whichever political party is in charge from drawing an unfair advantage.

Some of the districts created in 2011, particularly the 7th district in the eastern part of the state and the 12th district around Pittsburgh, have drawn national scrutiny.

There is a lawsuit seeking to throw out the map of Pennsylvania's Congressional districts as an unconstitutional gerrymander favoring Republicans and violating the rights of Democratic voters.

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In Pennsylvania, those maps often look more like ink blots than a congressional district. Well, I am in goofy's thumb.

"The map is basically unresponsive to the will of the people", said David Gersch of the Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer law firm in Washington, D.C., which is helping represent the plaintiffs. The top lawyer for Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, called the lawsuit "baseless" and said Scarnati would fight it. Throwing out the map could disenfranchise millions of Pennsylvania voters and mean changing the rules more than five years after the plan properly became law, said the lawyer, Drew Crompton.

In the complaint filed in the state's Commonwealth Court, the plaintiffs cite a Brennan Center for Justice report that said the Pennsylvania map was one of the "extreme" cases of partisan gerrymandering.

"This is a non-partisan lawsuit".

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"The 2011 map as you saw was created without public participation, without transparency, or without accountability", Carty said.

The Governor and State Lawmakers are being sued in court. Because Pennsylvania grew more slowly than the rest of the nation, it lost a U.S. House seat, dropping from 19 to 18 in the most recent map.

Although they personally are not responsible for signing off on the current maps from 2011, whoever holds the positions of governor, secretary or leaders of the general assembly would be responsible for implementing the 2021 maps following the 2020 census.

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