The Pennsylvania Gerrymandering Ruling Could Give Democrats More Seats

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has struck down the Republicans’ partisan gerrymander. To be clear, this is a ruling on the state constitution, not the federal one. That might make it more difficult for the Roberts Court to overrule. This is a different kettle of fish from the cases where U.S. District Courts have ruled against congressional maps.

The Democratic-controlled court, which said that the districts violate the state constitution, gave the Republican-controlled Legislature until Feb. 9 to pass a replacement and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf until Feb. 15 to submit it to the court. Otherwise, the justices said they will adopt a plan in an effort to keep the May 15 primary election on track.

The court said the boundaries “clearly, plainly and palpably” violate the state’s constitution, and blocked it from remaining in effect for the 2018 elections.

Presumably, the court will wind up drawing the boundaries because the Republican legislature and the Democratic governor will not reach an agreement. And if the process isn’t short-circuited by the U.S. Supreme Court, Stephen Wolf of Daily Kos Elections projects that it will mean at least one more guaranteed seat for the Democrats, with a potential pick-up of as many as six.

If you’re still dismissing the likelihood of the Republicans losing control of the House, this news should impact your certainty; if it stands, it could be the decisive factor that changes the ultimate outcome.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.