By Jim Ellis
Jan. 23, 2018 — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, on a vote of 4-3, Monday invalidated the state’s congressional map due to political gerrymandering. The high court further ordered the legislature and governor to create a new map, enact it, and return it to the court all by Feb. 15.
The new lines will be in effect for the 2018 elections, unless the Republican defendants can devise a way to flip the measure into the federal system. Since this lawsuit was filed against the map for violating the Constitution of Pennsylvania rather than the US Constitution, such a move is considered a long shot.
Chances are high that the Republican-controlled legislature and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf will not be able to agree. If that in fact occurs, the state Supreme Court will subsequently appoint a special master to draw the new map.
With a 13R-5D margin in the delegation, Democrats stand to gain a significant number of seats. The fact that three Republican seats will be open (PA-9, Rep. Bill Shuster; PA-11, Rep. Lou Barletta; and, PA-15, Rep. Charlie Dent), the map drawers have plenty of leeway to turn seats Democratic in the regions that these districts now occupy all without even displacing an incumbent.