All You Need to Know About… The Pennsylvania Gerrymandering Case

New Pennsylvania House Congressional map

New Pennsylvania House Congressional map

Isaac Degenholtz, Website Director

As those who already follow Pennsylvania politics will know the state is in crisis. In 2011 the Republicans in the PA legislature redrew our congressional map, something that affects our national house seats. Although redrawing a congressional map is nothing out of the ordinary the new map the state drew most definitely was. The map drawn by the Republican-held state legislature was incredibly non-coherent and completely biased. This can be seen by the uneven number of Pennsylvania house seats held by Republicans in the national legislature.

The map essentially put all of the pro-Democrat areas into large districts and split up rural parts of the state. What this did is it gave the Republicans 13 out of the 18 house seats. This is what many people call gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is the process of manipulating the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party.

Recently, this case of partisan map drawing was brought up in front of the state Supreme Court. This court decided that yes, in fact, the Republicans did break the law. They ordered a new map to be drawn or they would hire someone to do it for the PA legislature.  

When the Republicans put forward a new map it was in fact still unfair and uncompetitive and was thus rejected by the governor. The PA Supreme Court following this decision had a new map drawn which is now what is currently in place. This map gives a few seats back to the Democrats and makes the state as a whole much more competitive.

The last important piece of the PA gerrymandering case is the Republican response. Some Republicans upset by the changes are calling for the impeachment of the judges while others want to take the decision to federal court. While it is unclear what a federal court can do to change back the map since no federal law was broken stay tuned to the Obama Eagle for more information about the case.