Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court Will Draw the State’s Congressional Map

  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will draw the congressional map to be used in the 2022 elections.
  • Democrats outnumber Republicans on the court 5 – 2.
  • The move comes after Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a plan drafted by Republicans.

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court will take over the state’s congressional redistricting process, which Democrats believe could result in a map more favorable for Democrats ahead of the 2022 elections.

In a ruling on Wednesday, the court — where Democrats hold a 5-2 majority — invoked its “extraordinary jurisdiction,” or right to take over any active litigation, citing a pressing need to come up with a new congressional map in time for the November vote. That takes the case out of the hands of a more conservative lower court.

Now, by February 7, a person appointed by the court, termed a “special master,” will file a report recommending a redistricting plan for the state and any necessary changes to the schedule for the 2022 elections.

Democrats believe they are likely to fare better than they would have under a GOP-drafted map due to both the makeup of the court and the likelihood it will draft congressional districts that better reflect Democrats’ strength in statewide elections.

This is despite the court’s designated special master being one of the state’s more conservative judges. As WHYY reported, Patricia McCullough, a member of the lower Commonwealth Court, will issue recommendations but the higher court will ultimately decide what map to adopt.

Pennsylvania’s current map was designed for 18 congressional seats, which are currently evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. But the state lost a seat as a result of the latest US Census — and the Republican-led legislature and Democratic governor were unable to agree on a replacement.

The plan drafted by Republican legislative leaders would have seen the GOP win nine seats to Democrats’ eight, based on the 2020 election won by President Joe Biden, according to an analysis by the Princeton Gerrymandering Project that was commissioned by The Philadelphia Inquirer. The proposal from Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf would have flipped that.

Earlier, in 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out a 2011 congressional map that had delivered Republicans a 13-5 advantage, issuing a plan of its own that resulted in the state’s congressional delegation being evenly split.

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