The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday released a congressional map that unites Northeast Philadelphia in one district and is friendly to Democrats in much of the rest of the state.
The Democratic-controlled Supreme Court had ruled the previous map unconstitutional, determining that Republicans crafted it to maximize GOP seats.
Republican legislative leaders submitted an improved map, but not compact enough for Gov. Tom Wolf, who rejected it.
Under the previous map, about 70 percent of the Northeast was in the 13th Congressional District. About evenly split with Montgomery County, it was represented by Democrat Brendan Boyle.
About 30 percent of the Northeast had been in the 1st Congressional District. It included other Philadelphia neighborhoods and portions of Delaware County and was represented by Democrat Bob Brady.
Brady had already announced he wouldn’t be running for another term, allowing the Supreme Court to draw two Philadelphia districts favorable to Boyle and fellow Democratic Rep. Dwight Evans.
The new map changes boundaries and district numbers.
Boyle will represent the new 2nd Congressional District, which includes all of the Northeast along with neighborhoods such as Bridesburg, Port Richmond, Fishtown, Northern Liberties, Kensington, Juniata, Olney, Logan, Feltonville and North Philadelphia.
Right now, Republicans hold 13 of the state’s 18 seats.
That’s about to change.
The Supreme Court packed Republican-leaning voters into six districts, giving the GOP sure wins.
The Court created five safe Democratic seats and turned two current Republican seats into prime pickup opportunities for Democrats.
Four other seats are less Republican than they once were.
The final district, Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright’s seat in northeastern Pennsylvania, didn’t change much in terms of voter registration and leans the incumbent’s way.
Republicans have vowed to challenge the new map in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Val DiGiorgio released the following statement:
“Today, in a shameful display of partisanship, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court drew and released a new congressional map. This map constitutes a new standard for judicial activism, unquestionably is a violation of separation of powers, and is a sad day for the commonwealth and the state and federal constitutions. This power grab is an affront to over 200 years of precedent and nothing short of judicial-mandering.
“Make no mistake — this is a partisan gerrymandering and power grab by Democrat Party operatives hiding behind robes. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, by acting as judge, executive and legislature, has trampled on the concept of separation of powers and violated the Pennsylvania and U.S. Constitution. Additionally, the new map splits existing cities, wards and precincts and uses concentrated Democratic votes in the cities to dilute Republican voters across our state. One can only conclude the Democrats have done with their maps the very thing they sought to redress with their lawsuit — packing and cracking voters for partisan gain. We are learning firsthand the dangers of a Democrat majority on the Supreme Court who are intent on legislating from the bench.”
Democrats, meanwhile, are celebrating.
Lt. Gov. Mike Stack said, “The Supreme Court has created a map that restores a level playing field to Pennsylvania’s congressional districts. As I had advocated to the Court, the new map does away with the contorted and bizarrely shaped districts that impacted Montgomery, Bucks, Chester, and Delaware counties, essentially creating a separate seat for each county. Further, like my own submission, the new map creates distinct regions in the northeast (Pa.) and the Lehigh Valley, and restores Erie County. Finally, the voters in Western Pennsylvania now have compact districts. By making every vote count, this redistricting map should ease voter cynicism and encourage new candidates and new voters to participate in our democracy.”
Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Jack Hanna said, “Pennsylvanians will finally get a fair map with more competitive districts across the commonwealth. We applaud the fairness map put forth today by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. We are also thankful for Gov. Wolf’s leadership in fighting for fair maps and for rejecting the GOP’s gerrymander. Democrats and activists across the commonwealth are energized and fighting back against an out-of-touch legislature in Harrisburg and in Washington. We intend to compete in each and every one of these new districts and send a congressional delegation to D.C. that is much more representative of the people of Pennsylvania.” ••