PA’s Dem-controlled Supreme Court has assumed control over redistricting

The Washington Examiner reports that the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania just took over the state’s redistricting process. 

The court did so following a redistricting dispute between the state’s Democrat governor, Tom Wolf, and its Republican-controlled legislature. What this means, though, is that Pennsylvania’s high court, which has a decidedly liberal majority, at 5-2, will now be calling the shots with regard to the redistricting process.


Pennsylvania is one of those states in which we are seeing a real battle over redistricting. And, the battle has specifically resulted from the fact that the state’s legislature is controlled by one party and the governorship is controlled by another.

A state’s legislature is in control of the redistricting process. It comes up with a congressional map that will be followed going forward.

Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled legislature did just this, but the effort was vetoed by Wolf. Wolf claimed that the map drawn up by the Republicans was unfair. So, now, as a result of this disagreement, the matter is being settled in the courts.

Legal proceedings

The Court that was overseeing the dispute between Wolf and the state legislature was Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court. It has a 5-3 Republican majority.

The state Commonwealth Court had asked the parties to each submit congressional maps for the court’s consideration. It received 13 maps.

Just this past weekend, though, Attorney Marc Elias, who is representing the Democrats, asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to take over the process. And, that’s exactly what the court decided to do.

The state Supreme Court used its “extraordinary jurisdiction” power to assume control over the matter. The vote went along ideological lines with the court’s two conservatives dissenting.

The “why?”

Max Baer, the chief justice of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, explained in a statement why it is that the court decided to exercise extraordinary jurisdiction here.

Baer said:

While the Commonwealth Court has acted expeditiously to address this matter, the threat of any appeal period from the Commonwealth Court decision to this Court reduces the scant days available for this Court to obtain briefs, study this complex and important matter, and render a decision. In consideration of the many deadlines and the need for speedy resolution of this matter for the benefit of potential candidates and voters, I am compelled to join the grant of extraordinary jurisdiction.

Going forward, Baer is going to allow the state Commonwealth Court to make a recommendation regarding the congressional maps by February 7. Objections will be allowed through the 14th, and oral arguments will take place on the 18th. Republicans would now appear to be at a serious disadvantage.

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