The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled on Jan. 22 that Pennsylvania's GOP-drawn congressional map is in violation of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and ordered that all 18 United States House districts be redrawn before Feb. 9.
The Pennsylvania's Supreme Court’s 4-3 decision could change the power dynamics of both the pivotal 2018 midterm election and the May primaries. As per procedure, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf will hold veto power throughout the process.
Senate Republicans have already vowed to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Referring to the ruling as a “partisan action," the GOP will appeal on the basis that the state Supreme Court’s five to two Democratic majority may have influenced its decision.
“It’s a tricky appeal because generally the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t have authority to overturn rulings made solely on the basis of a state’s law," Political Science professor Marc Meredith said. “More likely than not, the appeal is going to fail and that means new districts will be drawn quickly in Pennsylvania."
Pennsylvania’s congressional map has been considered to be extremely gerrymandered since its district lines were last drawn under GOP House, Senate, and governor control in 2011.
Republicans have won the same 13 of 18 House seats since 2011, the Washington Post reports, despite votes being equally split between the Democrats and Republicans during the last presidential campaign.
According to multiple measurements, Pennsylvania consistently ranks as one of the most gerrymandered states in the country.
Penn Democrats Communications Director and College junior Jack Weisman said this decision is important because “gerrymandering is fundamentally undemocratic."
“If districts are gerrymandered, representatives choose their voters,” Weisman said. “This ruling means that voters in Pennsylvania will actually be able to choose their representatives and the Pennsylvania congressional delegation will better represent the will of voters.”
The decision is one that mirrors 2018 national trends. Earlier this month, a federal court invalidated North Carolina’s GOP-drawn congressional map and in Virginia bills to create a redistricting commission and end gerrymandering were proposed.
Vice President of College Republicans and Wharton junior Owen O’Hare agreed that this redistricting “doesn’t portend good things for the current districts’ chances to remain the same.”
He hypothesized that the new map “will probably throw a few more seats into competition this November.”