After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined that the current congressional districts in the state were unfair to the Democratic party, the GOP-led state Senate and House were tasked with redrawing the districts.
On Friday evening, two Pennsylvania Republicans submitted a new map prior to the deadline that was given last month after the ruling.
“The proposed new districts are more compact and less convoluted than the old ones, particularly in the Philadelphia area, and they hew more closely to county and municipal boundaries. The map “complies fully” with the court order, according to the submission from Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati and House Speaker Mike Turzai,” writes Wall Street Journal. “Legislative map drafters gave “some consideration” to where incumbents live, because “incumbency can matter to a reasonable degree,” said Drew Compton, Mr. Scarnati’s chief of staff and counsel. Another goal was to minimize confusion by limiting how many voters wind up living in a new district, he said.”
Penn. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is now reviewing the new map with experts.
Gerrymandering is when political boundaries are drawn purposely to give a party a numeric and political advantage over an opposing party. There is no law against gerrymandering and is a common technique often used by both the GOP and Democrats.
However, it appears as though on the state level, there have been several recent cases restricting gerrymandering.
“You’re seeing how much turmoil there is now in the lower federal courts, and how many federal judges believe the time has come for the courts to impose substantial limits” on partisan gerrymanders, said Richard H. Pildes, a scholar of the law of democracy at the New York University School of Law to the New York Times.
The recent case in Penn. revealed that the state’s congressional delegation, drawn up by the GOP in 2011, tilts 13-to-5 in favor of Republicans. Because of this discrepancy, the map was deemed in violation of the state constitution.
“Political analysts say Democrats could pick up three to four additional seats under new district boundaries. The party needs to gain a net 24 seats nationwide in November to retake the U.S. House, which has been under Republican control since 2011,” writes the WSJ. “The proposed GOP map would give Democrats “two significantly better districts,” Muhlenberg College political scientist Christopher Borick said. One is the Seventh District, which had run from Lancaster County to the Philadelphia suburbs and whose shape has been described as “Goofy kicking Donald Duck.” He said it appears Republicans “just wrote that off.”
But implementing new congressional districts so close to the upcoming primary in May means that many voters and even candidates won’t know their district.
Even though Gerrymandering is often seen as a bad thing, it’s a technique used to also give minority populations more of a vote.
Florida’s 5th congressional district, for example, is an intentionally gerrymandered territory that was drawn up specifically to create a majority-black district.
Author’s note: Gerrymandering will likely remain a common practice, but more restrictions are now getting introduced on the state level. It’s no secret that Gerrymandering is a good thing for the party drawing the districts. It’s only a matter of time until a gerrymandering case is brought to the Federal Supreme Court.
Editor’s note: You have one party in power who redraws the districts, and a judge who is part of the other party enforcing rules to make a change. I think this will always be a process with a certain amount of corruption. There are a dozen “fair” way to build Congressional Districts, but no way that doesn’t favor a party in one way or another.