HARRISBURG – The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to intervene to stop an order by the state Supreme Court that gave the Legislature until Friday to redo the state's congressional maps.
Republicans asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the state court's ruling because of the condensed timeline and the threat that if the Legislature fails to produce new maps on time, the state Supreme Court will produce its own.
Pennsylvania’s congressional maps are considered some of the most gerrymandered in the nation, with the 7th Congressional district being particularly notorious for looking like Goofy kicking Donald Duck.
In addition, in a state where there are more registered Democrats than Republicans, the GOP holds 12 of the state’s 18 Congressional seats. Another seat had been held by a Republican until former U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy resigned last year. A special election to name his successor is scheduled for next month using the existing district boundaries.
Gov. Tom Wolf, in a statement, said that with the Supreme Court's decision not to intervene in place, "Now, all parties must focus on getting a fair map in place."
Wolf said his office is ready to work with the General Assembly to get new maps approved.
"Gerrymandering is wrong and we must correct errors of the past with the existing map," he said.
Speaking to reporters Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman said that lawmakers from the Senate and House have not yet met to determine how or whether they will try to pass Congressional maps by Friday.
Corman said some lawmakers are skeptical that the state Supreme Court will approve anything passed by the Legislature.
Lawmakers have also not had any conversation with the governor about what he would consider acceptable in a redrawn map.
Wolf has announced that he has hired Moon Duchin, a math professor from Tufts University, to determine if the redrawn maps are nonpartisan enough to pass muster.
Corman noted that the state Supreme Court has hired an expert from California, Nathaniel Persily, from Stanford Law School, to assist in their efforts to come up with new maps if the Legislature fails to provide them with one to review.
“Apparently no one in Pennsylvania knows how to do this,” Corman said.
Most legal scholars had suggested that the U.S. Supreme Court would keep its hands off the decision, because the state Supreme Court’s order indicated it was ruling based on state law.