HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is imposing a new congressional district map for the state’s 2018 elections, meeting its deadline to do so and likely setting up a challenge from Republicans.
The map of Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional districts is to be in effect for the May 15 primary and substantially overhauls a congressional map widely viewed as among the nation’s most gerrymandered. The map was approved in a 4-3 decision, with four Democratic justices backing it and one Democratic justice siding with two Republicans against it.
Most significantly, the new map likely gives Democrats a better shot at winning seats in Philadelphia’s heavily populated and moderate suburbs, where Republicans had held seats in bizarrely contorted districts, including one labeled “Goofy Kicking Donald Duck.”
Democrats quickly cheered the new map, which could dramatically change the predominantly Republican, all-male delegation elected on a 6-year-old map.
“It remedies the outrageous gerrymander of 2011, and that’s the important thing, that the gerrymander be over,” said David Landau, the Democratic Party chairman of Delaware County, which was ground zero for the “Goofy Kicking Donald Duck” district. “All that zigging and zagging is all gone, and it makes Delaware County a competitive seat now.”
Republican lawmakers are expected to quickly challenge the map in federal court, arguing that legislatures and governors, not courts, have the constitutional responsibility to draw congressional maps.
The Democratic-majority state high court ruled last month that Pennsylvania’s district boundaries were unconstitutionally gerrymandered. Republicans have won 13 of Pennsylvania’s 18 seats in three elections under the invalidated map, although statewide elections are often closely contested. The new map won’t apply to March’s special election in southwestern Pennsylvania’s 18th District.