The new map of Pennsylvania's 18 congressional districts, which amends a map widely believed to be gerrymandered, with twisting, oddly-shaped districts allegedly drawn along partisan lines, is supposed to be in effect for the May 15 primary. However, Republican lawmakers could oppose the court's order and seek an injunction in federal court because the new map will likely give Democrats better chances at winning seats in Philadelphia's politically moderate suburbs.
Many Republican lawmakers have argued that legislatures and governors, not courts, are constitutionally responsible for drawing congressional maps.
"Implementation of this map would create a constitutional crisis where the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is usurping the authority of the legislative and executive branches. We anticipate further action in federal court," House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati said in a recent joint statement, the Daily Item reported.
"This entire exercise, while cloaked in ‘litigation,' is and has been nothing more than the ultimate partisan gerrymander — one brought about by the Democrat governor acting in concert with liberal politically connected litigants," they said.
According to Drew Spencer Penrose, legal and policy director at FairVote, "This is an unusual case in that it was brought in to a state court under the state constitution. There's really not a lot of room for the Pennsylvania Republicans to argue that their state court interpreted their state constitution wrong."
"The state Supreme Court tends to be the final arbiter of the state constitution, so it's hard for me to see what avenues they may have. They [Republicans] even tried an emergency petition earlier to the Supreme Court and that was dismissed. I don't see them having anywhere to go at this point," Penrose told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear, referring to the emergency petition filed last month with the US Supreme Court to block further action on the redrawing of the state's congressional districts.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf commended the court's plan.
"Over the last month, I have personally heard from thousands of Pennsylvanians and they are sick and tired of gerrymandering, which perpetuates gridlock, alienates citizens and stifles reform," Wolf said in a recent statement. "I applaud the court for their decision and I respect their effort to remedy Pennsylvania's unfair and unequal congressional elections."