Court smacks down GOP’s scheme to rig elections in Pennsylvania


Gerrymandering was just dealt a fatal blow in Pennsylvania — in time for crucial midterm elections.

Amid wall-to-wall coverage of the shutdown negotiations, one massive Democratic victory has gone largely unnoticed.

On Monday, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued a ruling that the Republican-controlled state legislature illegally gerrymandered congressional districts — and furthermore, that the maps must be redrawn in time for the midterm elections.

According to the seven-member court, the GOP’s redistricting plan "plainly and palpably violates the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."

Under the order, the legislature must redraw the map, with the approval of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, and submit it to the court by Feb. 15. If they do not redraw the map, or if the governor rejects it, the court will pick from several proposed maps drawn up by "all parties and intervenors" involved in the case.

The new map will not be used for the special election to replace disgraced GOP ex-Rep. Tim Murphy, which is already so competitive that Donald Trump is scrambling to help the Republican candidate.

Unlike other recent gerrymandering decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court cannot overrule or stay this ruling, because it was not a federal question, but rather a state court interpreting a state constitution.

As Stephen Wolf of Daily Kos notes, a new nonpartisan congressional map in Pennsylvania could give Democrats anywhere between one and six more House seats, significantly improving the odds of Democrats winning the entire chamber.

Republicans have for years relied on picking and choosing which district their voters are in to maintain their majorities in Congress. But Democrats are turning back these schemes.

And in Pennsylvania, the people won a massive victory for fair maps and fair representation.