Pennsylvania’s State Supreme Court has redrawn the state’s district map ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, observing a self-imposed deadline. The Court had said that it would redraw the state’s congressional districts if the legislature and the governor could not agree on one themselves.
The Court ruled in January that the State’s map had to be redrawn because it was contrived in a way that heavily favored the Republican Party. It gave lawmakers until February 9 to submit a new map to Governor Tom Wolf, who is a Democrat.
Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania asked the U.S. Supreme Court to give them more time in redrawing the districts. They also challenged the lower court’s authority to redraw new districts, saying the Constitution gives that authority only to state legislatures and not courts.
The request to stay the lower court’s decision went before Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito who oversees the circuit that includes Pennsylvania, the 3rd. Alito rejected the request without referring it to the whole Court.
The move by the Pennsylvania Court improves the chances of the Democratic Party of picking up seats in this year’s midterm elections. The previous map was widely seen as among the nation’s most gerrymandered. The new map was approved in a 4-3 decision.
Republican lawmakers may once again challenge the move in court, arguing that only state legislatures and governors have the right to redraw congressional maps. The decision by the court may introduce confusion into this year’s Pennsylvania elections as dozens of candidates and millions of voters are left to figure out which they district they live in about a month before deadlines for the submission of paperwork to run.