PA Supreme Court Orders Lege To UNFUCK The Maps! NOW!
Oh, Pennsylvania! We take it all back! Sorry we've been giving you the stinkeye for 15 months. You were seduced by an orange con man who promised you all the coal you could mine, all the steel you could smelt, and an auto plant in every pot. We get it -- shit happens.
But Monday your state's Supreme Court tossed out all those nasty, gerrymandered districts and ordered your legislature to redraw them fair-like in time for the November elections. And now we remember why we love you! We're even willing to call you a commonwealth, whatever that is. Let your freak flag fly, PA!
The rest of us in US America are stuck waiting for the Supreme Court to tell us whether extreme partisan gerrymandering violates our constitutional rights. Yes, it is 2018 and we are still scratching our heads wondering if there is maybe something illegal about this shit.
Lower federal courts held that penalizing voters for their past votes by sticking them in districts where their preferred candidate can never win DOES in fact violate the US Constitution. But SCOTUS is taking its sweet time, and so it's allowing Wisconsin and North Carolina to run yet another election with the same, bullshit maps whilst they think it over.
(Also Maryland, which is ridiculously gerrymandered to favor Democrats. In fairness, though, we just overrode the Republican governor's veto to pass paid sick leave, so using our powers for good!)
Back to Pennsylvania, though, where the highest court just tossed their districts for violating the state Constitution. The three-page order was brief -- a longer opinion is coming -- but the court found that Republican gerrymandering violated state law, rather than federal. So this is a final order, and almost certainly not appealable in federal court.
First, the Court finds as a matter of law that the Congressional Redistricting Act of 2011 clearly, plainly and palpably violates the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and, on that sole basis, we hereby strike it as unconstitutional. Accordingly, its further use in elections for Pennsylvania seats in the United States House of Representatives, commencing with the upcoming May 15, 2018 primary, is hereby enjoined.
Although registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in Pennsylvania, the state currently sends five Democrats and 13 Republicans to Congress. (Okay, registered Democrats also outnumber registered Republicans IN OKLAHOMA. So let's note some actual votes: In 2012, Democrats in US House races in Pennsylvania won more than 50 percent of the vote -- but only five of the 18 House seats.) The Court wants new maps drawn up by the legislature and submitted by the Democratic governor by February 15. And just in case state officials are thinking about trying some sad-weak nonsense about needing to study the matter for six months, the judges made clear they are prepared to redraw those districts themselves after the deadline. Kinda hard to pretend you need an in-depth study after umpteen cases where the Republican mapfucker testified, I JUST PLUG IN WHICH DISTRICTS VOTED DEMOCRATIC, N' THE 'PUTER CHOPS 'EM UP AND SPITS ME OUT A NEW MAP IN A JIFFY!
Which means that some of those 13 Republican congressmen from the Keystone State are coming home for good. Odds that Republicans will eliminate the district for Congressman Pat Meehan (R-Stalker), HIGH. Odds that Democrats will take back the House with the addition of three seats in Pennsylvania, RISING.
This NiceTimes is brought to you by the Great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, showing the rest of us how it's done. Pennsylvania may be the first state to find that partisan gerrymandering violates its constitution, but we doubt it will be the last.
So everybody in the car! We're going to WaWa for a cheesesteak and some Tastykake krimpets! If you can manage not to poke your sister, we'll be at Hershey Park in two hours. But if we hear one peep, SO HELP US WE ARE TURNING THIS CAR AROUND!
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.