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PA Lawsuit Asks State Supreme Court to Intervene in Redistricting

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Friday, January 7, 2022   

A new lawsuit asks the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to intervene in creating a new congressional district map for the Commonwealth, as concerns grow the legislature and governor will not be able to reach an agreement in time for the 2022 primary.

The Public Interest Law Center has filed an application to intervene in the case, representing leaders of Common Cause Pennsylvania, Fair Districts PA, and the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania.

Ben Geffen, staff attorney at the Center, said it the suit is about trying to avoid the mistakes of the 2011 congressional maps, which were thrown out by the state Supreme Court in 2018 due to partisan gerrymandering.

"It set a precedent, for the first time saying that it is a violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution to draw a map in order to benefit one party or another party," Geffen explained. "It's an opportunity for Pennsylvania to get the map right in the first instance."

Gov. Tom Wolf sent a letter last week to the House State Government Committee, flagging his concerns with its proposed congressional map. The lawsuit was filed in Commonwealth Court.

Khalif Ali, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, said they are also asking the Supreme Court to end what's known as "prison gerrymandering," when people in prison are counted as residents of the county where they're incarcerated, not where they would normally vote.

Ali pointed out in Pennsylvania, this most often involves people from Philadelphia or Allegheny counties.

"It's increasing the strength of representation in areas that, although they deserve representation, they may not deserve the type of representation that happens when there's an increase of several thousand inmates in your county that don't get an opportunity to really talk to a representative," Ali stated.

The Department of State has requested the House, Senate and congressional maps be approved by Jan. 24 to meet deadlines for the May 2022 primary elections.

Disclosure: Fair Districts PA contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Civic Engagement, Community Issues and Volunteering. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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