Houlahan Benefits From Court Move Against Gerrymandering in Pennsylvania


Under the new map, observers expect the delegation will be more evenly divided.

Republican leaders at the State Capitol are continuing their fight against the new congressional map issued by the State Supreme Court this week. Ten of the state's 13 districts are now held by Republicans.

And when Republican U.S. Representative Ryan Costello joined the impeachment parade, that, too was predictable: The new congressional map made his relatively safe district highly competitive. That piece of partisan chicanery created a 7th District here in Delaware County so grotesquely bent and twisted to favor the Republican incumbent it earned the mocking description of "Goofy Kicking Donald Duck".

Ironically, no one is actually arguing that the new map issued by the Pa. court is not much fairer than the monstrosity created by Republican legislators after the 2010 census.

A razor-thin, 4-3 majority then gave lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf - who supported the plaintiff's case - 24 days to come up with a replacement based primarily on criteria in place for state legislative reapportionment.

According to the maps released by the court Monday, which did not specify municipalities or voting precincts, eastern Butler County including Buffalo, Oakland and Summit townships and Chicora, Bruin and Petrolia boroughs are now part of the 15th District. That emergency petition was reviewed by Justice Samuel Alito (who has jurisdiction over emergency petitions of this kind on matters arising out of Pennsylvania) and denied outright. The deadline had been February 27.

However, "these new maps are far more favorable to Democrats than the old ones, and it appears that the court went out of its way to make them that way", Ellis said.

Not among them is U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a Republican from the Philadelphia suburbs who wants to turn over redistricting to an independent, non-partisan commission.

Now there is a March 13 special election in western Pennsylvania, with Democrats making a strong run in a seat where a scandal-ridden Republican resigned.

"I'm very happy", said Delaware County Democratic Party Chair David Landau in response to the new map. He said, "I think the court did enough in the way of judicial activism to be impeached".

Jodun could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday. They said they didn't take partisanship into consideration at all, and they ended up with a map with a relatively similar GOP advantage to the current one.

Pennsylvania Republicans filed a motion with the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay on the new map - a Hail Mary that seems unlikely to be successful. The parties have usurped the voters' power.

"It has absolutely no effect on any other races at all", Murren said. The majority of the state court justices decreed that once they'd determined the state's congressional districts were illegally gerrymandered they had to see that the situation was corrected as soon as possible.

The order called for congressional districts to be "composed of compact and contiguous territory; as almost equal in population as practicable; and which do not divide any county, city, incorporated town, borough, township, or ward, except where necessary to ensure equality of population".