Pennsylvania’s top court tosses congressional map, finds state constitutional violation

- Pennsylvania’s top court tosses congressional map, finds state constitutional violation

Election Law

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Monday that a congressional district map benefiting Republicans violates the state constitution, and it ordered state lawmakers to submit a new plan by Feb. 9.

The court said the current map “clearly, plainly and palpably” violates the state constitution, and it may not be used in the May 15 primary. The Washington Post, Pennlive, Reuters, Politico and the Huffington Post have stories.

The 5-2 order is a boon to Democrats, who hold only five out of 18 congressional districts in the swing state. The plaintiffs had claimed the congressional map violated equal protection and free expression protections in the state constitution by favoring Republicans.

The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering whether partisan gerrymandering can be unconstitutional in two pending cases. Lawyers for plaintiffs in the Pennsylvania case said today’s decision is insulated from U.S. Supreme Court review because it is based on the state constitution, according to the Huffington Post.

State legislative leaders, however, said they would seek Supreme Court review. The decision “is a partisan action showing a distinct lack of respect for the Constitution and the legislative process,” they said in a statement.

The Pennsylvania order says the state general assembly should submit its new plan to the governor, who has until Feb. 15 to submit the plan to the court if he agrees with it. The redrawn congressional districts should be compact and contiguous, nearly equal in population, and should not divide cities and other jurisdictions unless necessary to ensure equality of population, the court said.

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If no plan is submitted the court will adopt a plan.

Justices Thomas Saylor and Sallie Updyke Mundy dissented from the court’s order. Justice Max Baer concurred in the decision on constitutionality but said he feared implementing new maps in the May primary risks “confusion, if not chaos.”


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Edward Lott, Ph.D., M.B.A. is president and managing partner of Allentown-based ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing, Inc., a local search and digital marketing agency that offers clients lead generation, local seo and Google Maps Domination. Ed has been a digital entrepreneur since 1994, having discovered very early the opportunities the Internet offered. After having spent over two decades helping attorneys grow their practice, Ed joined the staff of ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing as President and Managing Partner, where he is expanding the agency’s cutting-edge services to the legal market. A true marketing futurist, Ed's vast experience working directly with attorneys has given him a unique perspective on law firm marketing not found in many other digital marketing agencies. Ed has reshaped the offerings of ForLawFirmsOnly to focus on growing law firms through a holistic approach to digital marketing evident in the reformulated lead generation processes now in place. Want to learn more about ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing, their lead generation programs, or just talk to Ed about his visions for helping law firms grow? Call him at 855-943-8736.

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