Republican Pennsylvania leaders submit plan for redrawing congressional map

Nancy Patton Mills- from the Allegheny Democrats website

Nancy Patton Mills- from the Allegheny Democrats website

The Republican leaders of the Pennsylvania legislature on Friday night submitted a new statewide map of congressional districts to the state's Democratic governor.

The state court then directed that the congressional district map be redrawn and submitted to Gov. Tom Wolf by February 9 (less than three weeks later) or the judges would come up with their own map.

The court declared the 2011 Republican-crafted map unconstitutional on January 22 and directed the General Assembly to propose a new one and send it to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

"I intend to do my part to implement the court's order and ensure that fair maps become Pennsylvania's new reality", he said in a statement earlier on Friday.

Under the Supreme Court order, Wolf has until Thursday to tell the justices if he supports it.

The GOP-drawn map passed in 2011 has been a political victor for Republicans, giving them a 13-5 advantage in three straight elections in a state with more registered Democrats than Republicans.

A revamped map of the 18 U.S. House districts in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state in the 2016 presidential race, could reshape the political balance in this year's mid-term electoral battle for control of Congress.

House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati said in a statement Friday that their map "complies fully" with directions from the state Supreme Court.

"While an ideal scenario would be a consensus map that can garner the support of both chambers in the General Assembly and meets the standards for fairness, it remains unclear, at this time, if the entire General Assembly will be engaged in such a bipartisan process", Wolf said.

Mimi McKenzie, legal director of the Public Interest Law Center, one of the groups challenging the existing congressional boundaries in court, said her organization would also review the submitted maps.

Pennsylvania lawmakers are approaching a court-imposed deadline to redraw the state's map of congressional districts that was thrown out on grounds it unfairly helped Republicans. If Wolf is on board, the new map will be enacted.

The court's Democratic majority said the plan violates a provision of the state constitution that guarantees "free and equal" elections, subverting redistricting objectives such as compactness and minimal municipal splits to the goal of gaining partisan advantage.

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