A group of Pennsylvania Republican Congressmen, including Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township, has issued a response to the State Supreme Court’s decision on Monday that ruled the congressional district map violates the state Constitution and must be redrawn.
The 4-3 decision from the Democratic-majority court comes less than one week after the court heard oral arguments as part of a lawsuit originally filed by the League of Women Voters that challenged the Congressional Redistricting Act of 2011.
The ruling said the act “clearly, plainly and palpably violates the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” and discards the congressional district map that was drawn under the legislation, which the lawsuit contested allowed for unreasonable gerrymandering that favored the GOP.
Pennsylvania is represented in Congress with 18 House seats, 12 of which are held by Republicans. The ruling has vaulted the swing state into the national spotlight ahead of the 2018 congressional primary races and it is widely reported that as many as four seats could swing to the Democratic side in the fall, if the ruling is upheld.
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Thompson is joined in the Republican response to the ruling by Mike Kelly, R-Butler; Scott Perry, R-Carroll Township; Ryan Costello, R-West Chester; Patrick Meehan, R- Springfield; Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg; Tom Marino, R-Williamsport; Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley; Charlie Dent, R-Allentown; and Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster.
“Yesterday’s misguided decision by the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court is an unfortunate example of the judicial branch inserting itself into the core functions of the legislative branch. Today’s congressional maps were drafted and approved by both Republicans and Democrats. It also comes on the eve of a midterm election. An orderly electoral process is an essential function of our Democracy,” the joint statement read.
The ruling provides the Pennsylvania General Assembly with the opportunity to redraw the congressional district map and submit the suggestion to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf by Feb. 9. If Wolf accepts the plan it will need to be submitted to the court by Feb. 15.
If the General Assembly does not submit a redrawn map, one will be drawn by the courts and parties involved in the suit will have an opportunity to submit proposals.
The ruling provided guidelines for the redrawing of the districts, which state “any congressional districting plan shall consist of: congressional districts composed of compact and contiguous territory; as nearly 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.”
Republicans have indicated their intention to appeal the ruling and the filings are expected this week.
The primary election is scheduled for May 15 and all candidates are required to file their intentions to run by March 6.