Landmark Decision: Pennsylvania Gerrymandering Case

If you haven’t been paying attention to local Pennsylvanian gerrymandering politics and news (which come on why haven’t you?) then you might not have heard about a recent case that has been going through the courts in Pennsylvania, and now has been through the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The Court basically said that the Congressional map that was made in 2011 was unconstitutional and needed to be redrawn before the state’s Congressional primaries in May of 2018, however, unfortunately the map will not be used for the March 13 special congressional election in the 18th Congressional district between Rick Saccone (R) and Conor Lamb (D).

Pennsylvania was considered one of the most gerrymandered states in the nation and that’s even including some of these horribly obvious gerrymandered districts:

Florida5thDistrict
Illinois2ndDistrictMaryland3rdDistrictTexas35thDistrictTexas2ndDistrictNCCongressionalDistricts

While these are just a few districts of the 435 Congressional districts in the United States, there are plenty more examples of gerrymandering occurring in the country, however we will save that for another piece that I will be writing about the history of gerrymandering. This piece is supposed to be dedicated to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision.

Before we talk about how the Court made its decision and why it matter, let’s take a look at the Pennsylvania Congressional districts that were drawn in 2011, after the 2010 census.

PennCongDistricts2011

This map was considered one of the most gerrymandered maps in the nation and if you look at the light grey district in the southeast portion of the state, some people have called that district the “Goofy Kicking Donald Duck” district.

The decision, according to PBS, was determined by a 4-3 decision with 4 Democrats favoring it and 1 Democrat and 2 Republicans opposing it.

The map that the Supreme Court approved remedies much of the gerrymandering that occurred in 2011 and looks like this.2018PennMap

This is likely going to make Pennsylvania much more competitive and democratic since the districts will no longer be drawn to be gerrymandered, at least in theory. In this case, the gerrymandering severely hurts Republicans in the state and helps the Democrats but do not be presumptuous that I don’t see what the Democrats do too. If you look at Maryland, the Democrats have done a real number on democracy in that state, just like Republicans did in Pennsylvania.

This ruling will hopefully be used for other courts to bring up cases on gerrymandering in other states and even at the federal level and hopefully we can do something real about gerrymandering in the very near future.

 

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