Judges rule Pa. can keep congressional map

Judges rule Pa. can keep congressional map

Plaintiffs in the case argued Republicans drew oddly shaped maps to make a handful of districts where Democrats would have huge electoral advantages and more where Republicans would be likely to win. A federal court ruled in favor of the congressional map in Pennsylvania, not finding that they were partisan gerrymandering. But now in a majority ruling, a three-judge panel found Republican legislators drew heavily partisan maps created to, quote, "dictate electoral outcomes".

"If the 2018 election must proceed under a map other than the one that governed the 2016 congressional elections, then the Board of Elections needs lead to time assign voters to their new districts, potential candidates need lead time to evaluate the new map and make filing decisions, and voters need lead time to understand where they will be voting and for whom", the motion states. The judges in the North Carolina case have given Republican lawmakers until January 24 to offer replacement maps or yield to an appointed special master. A spokesperson told the newspaper that legislative leaders will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The lawmakers' attorney also mentioned a Maryland redistricting case in which Republican challengers have accused Democrats in power of drawing a congressional district to weaken their party's vote in violation of free speech rights.

In a similar case in Pennsylvania, a divided three-judge panel Wednesday rejected partisan gerrymandering claims involving the state's congressional districts. And these judges are appointees of three different presidents, Wynn by Barack Obama, Britt by Jimmy Carter and Osteen by George W. Bush, and are highly respected as experienced, clear-eyed jurists.

In North Carolina, the lower court panel determined that the Republican map, approved by the legislature in February 2016, was marked by "invidious partisanship" that violated the U.S. Constitution.

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The Republican lawyers had already asked the three-judge panel to order a delay of its decision by Thursday, but jumped to the Supreme Court on Friday when the judges didn't act that quickly.

Districts done in haste - should this ruling stand - will not be ideal, but if they can pass muster from these three judges, citizens can have more confidence in them than they do in the current ones.

This latest lawsuit against the districts was filed by Democrats and election advocacy groups.

The advocates say voters have waited too long for legal boundaries and a new map is needed for 2018 elections.

Gerry Cohen, a former legislative staffer who worked on redistricting plans from 1981 to 2011, echoed on Friday what he said past year after North Carolina's congressional maps were declared to have two unconstitutional gerrymanders. That prompted the creation of a new map, the one now before the courts.

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