Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Pennsylvania Ordered To Un-Gerrymander Before The Midterms (ie, Immediately)


Meehan will be the first Republican flushed away

As if things weren't bad enough for Chester the Molester, his gerrymandered district-- the only thing that has kept him in Congress-- is being wiped off the face of the map-- literally! Pat Meehan is done for... and he's not the only Pennsylvania Republican who is, either. He's been exposed for using tax payer money as hush money to quiet a woman staffer has his age he was molesting; Paul Ryan kicked him off the Ethics Committee. And how the most gerrymandered district in the country is going bye-bye... as he will soon be. As expected, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the contemptible congressional map as unconstitutional because it was drawn to drastically-- "clearly, plainly and palpably"-- benefit Republicans. The Justices ruled that the 2018 elections must be fought under new fairer boundaries.
The justices gave the Republican-controlled Legislature until Feb. 9 to pass a replacement and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf until Feb. 15 to submit it to the court. Otherwise, the justices said they will adopt a plan in an effort to keep the May 15 primary election on track.

The decision comes amid a national tide of gerrymandering cases, including some that have reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

Democrats cheered the decision to toss out a Republican-drawn map used in three general elections going back to 2012. The map, they say, gave Republicans crucial help in securing 13 of 18 seats in a state where registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans 5 to 4.

“We won the whole thing,” said David Gersch of the Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer law firm in Washington, D.C., which is helping represent the group of registered Democrats who filed the lawsuit last June.

The defendants-- top Republican lawmakers-- said they would ask the U.S. Supreme Court this week to step in and put the decision on hold. The state court’s decision lacks clarity, precedent and respect for the constitution and would introduce chaos into the state’s congressional races, they said.

The Senate’s top Republican lawyer, Drew Crompton, called the timeline to draw new districts “borderline unworkable,” but said Republicans will do everything they can to comply.

The decision has immediate implications for the 2018 election, meaning that 14 sitting members of Congress and dozens more people are planning to run in districts they may no longer live in. The deadline to file paperwork to run in primaries is March 6.

It also has implications for GOP control of Congress, since only Texas, California and Florida send more Republicans to the U.S. House than Pennsylvania.

Republicans who controlled Pennsylvania’s Legislature and governor’s office following the 2010 census broke decades of geographical precedent when redrawing the map, producing contorted shapes, including one dubbed “Goofy kicking Donald Duck.”

They shifted whole counties and cities into different districts in an effort to protect a Republican advantage in the congressional delegation. They succeeded, as Republicans in the delegation grew from 12 to 13, even as Pennsylvania lost a seat to account for the state’s relatively slow population growth.

...The nation’s high court has never struck down an electoral map as a partisan gerrymander. However, Monday’s decision in Pennsylvania could provide a new avenue to gerrymandering claims.

It is the first state court decision to throw out a congressional map because of partisan gerrymandering, said Michael Li, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

Li said there isn’t a clear federal basis for the U.S. Supreme Court to step into the case, and that the state Supreme Court should have the final say in a case under state law.

“That’s a real long shot,” Li said, “but the stakes are high and it’s not surprising that (Republicans) would ask.”
Pennsylvania Republicans in the legislature packed Democrats into a few districts to divide a 50/50 state's 198 congressional district in such a way to guarantee the Republicans 13 seats. Other ridiculously-drawn districts besides Meehan's (PA-07), include PA-13 (Brendan Boyle's), PA-06 (Ryan Costello's), PA-16 (Lloyd Smucker's), PA-10 (Tom Marino's), PA-11 (Lou Barletta's), PA-12 (Keith Rothfus'), PA-18 (open) and PA-03 (Mike Kelly's). I asked state Sen. Daylin Leach who had gone to hear the oral arguments. He was overjoyed: "After fighting this battle for 15 years, I'm thrilled the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has chosen to strike down the obscene gerrymander we've been living under and make the voters relevant again."

Matt Cartwright, who represents Scranton, Wilkes Barre and Nazareth in a bizarrely carved out district in eastern PA, is one of the only sensible members of Congress from Pennsylvania. This morning he asked, "Tired of incessant bickering in Washington? Sick of Democrats and Republicans just talking past each other?  Fed up with Congress oscillating from hard-left to hard-right, depending on which side wins? Annoyed that vast amounts of Congressional time is taken up repealing or undoing whatever the last majority accomplished, instead of making steady, sensible, lasting bipartisan progress on the issues that really matter to people? If so, you should share my abiding dislike for partisan gerrymandering, which, with Citizens United, I regard as one of the twin cancers mortally threatening our American democracy. I applaud the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s brilliant decision yesterday. It is a bright, shining beacon of hope for our democracy, and an example to other States on how they can do their part in helping our nation find its way out of the morbid mess we’re in right now."

UPDATE: Today's Special Election-- Another Huge Swing Blue

House District 35 southeast of Pittsburgh-- the Monongahela Valley, McKeesport-- leans blue. Hillary beat Trump there 58-39%. Last November Marc Gergely (D) resigned after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges relating to an illegal gambling machine ring. He had just been reelected 62.5% to 37.5%. Democrat Austin Davis beat Republican Fawn Montgomery-- the same candidate Gergely had beaten in 2016 but he beat her by a massive 74-26%, primarily because disheartened Republicans didn't show up to vote and Democrats did. Turnout was slightly over 10%.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home