State Supreme Court picks Democrat-backed map for Congressional districts

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

The new Sixth District, which looks much like the old 6th.

The State Supreme Court ruled Wednesday a Democratic backed “Carter Plan” district map should be used for the 2022 Congressional elections, rejecting a Republican proposal — and likely sending the the dispute to the federal courts, as happened in 2018, when Republicans lost a bid and the state Supreme Court map stood.

The impact on Chester County is minimal — the 6th District currently represented by U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan — is largely unchanged, taking up the entire county along with portions of Berks County.

The map seems likely to generate a fairly even split between GOP and Democratic Congressional seats — Pennsylvania loses a seat after the 2020 Census, with a 9-8 split seen as the most likely outcome in a state where Democrats saw about a 600,000 advantage in voter registration, as of Nov., 2021. The proposed GOP map was seen as leaning Republican and likely to generate anywhere between a 10-17 to 12-5 advantage for Republicans.

The 4-3 decision also maintains the May 17 primary date and allows Congressional candidates to begin collecting nomination signatures on Feb. 25. The state house races are on hold, as legal disputes continue over the two maps generated and approved 4-1 by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission, but rejected by House Republicans. Arguments on that matter are scheduled next month.

Meanwhile, reaction was rapid, starting with Gov. Tom Wolf.

“I am pleased with today’s ruling adopting the so-called ‘Carter Plan’ for congressional redistricting,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “It is a fair map that will result in a congressional delegation mirroring the citizenry of Pennsylvania.

“With today’s decision, we could again send to Washington members of Congress elected in districts that are fairly drawn without favor to one party or the other.”

Predictably Republicans disagreed with the decision.

The entire statewide map as approved by the state Supreme court on Wednesday.

Rep. Seth Grove (R-York), who proposed using the citizen-map drawn by Lehigh Valley resident Amanda Holt, ripped the decision calling it “partisan” issued the following statement:

“Today’s decision by the court was shamefully partisan,” Grove said in a statement. “In its ruling, the court said elected members of the General Assembly, who are tasked with ensuring the voices of Pennsylvanians are heard, don’t matter. Instead, the court said the National Democratic Redistricting Committee outweighs the voice of the people. The court justices who selected the map bowed to the wants and wishes of their Democratic National Committee handlers.”

In 2018, the state Supreme Court struck down a highly gerrymandered map — the old 7th District, which ripped through a swath of Chester County like a lightning bolt, gained infamy for being an example of extreme partisan gerrymandering — and instituted the map used for the last two election cycles. That map was also challenged in the federal courts, but the challenge failed.

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