Pennsylvania plaintiffs seek speedy replacement in congressional map case

Mark Scolforo (AP), The Morning Call (Allentown PA), 1/8/18

HARRISBURG — Registered Democratic voters suing to overturn Pennsylvania’s Republican-crafted map of congressional districts asked the state Supreme Court in a new filing to redraw the district borders if the Legislature and governor can’t do it within a two-week window.

The plaintiffs outlined their arguments in a 76-page brief filed Friday with the state Supreme Court, ahead of oral argument s planned for Jan. 17.

They suggested the court give lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf two weeks to redraw lines using nonpartisan criteria, then review the map with the help of a court-appointed special master to make additional changes. If that process does not work, they suggest the justices and the special master adopt their own map.

Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf face a Wednesday deadline to respond.

At stake in the case is whether the high court, with a 5-2 Democratic majority, will follow a recommendation made by a lower court judge about a week ago and reject the challengers’ argument that the map violates existing law by unfairly favoring Republicans.

The challengers argued that the state’s map of 18 congressional districts is among the most partisan in American history, saying it has proven to be “impervious to the will of voters.”

They said legislative Republicans “sought to predetermine the outcome of congressional elections for a decade” with the map, accusing them of retaliating against constitutionally protected political expression and association….

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