It's game on as GOP dealt double-barreled defeats on redistricting

Nathaniel Persily

Nathaniel Persily

The U.S. Supreme Court's latest action refusing to block the new map came one day before the filing deadline for the May 15 primary.

Republican legislators have already challenged the map in both federal and district courts. Political observers are anxiously awaiting word from Justice Samuel Alito about whether the court will take up the case and block the map's use for 2018.

Hours after a panel of federal court judges declined to stop a state Supreme Court plan to redistrict the state's Congressional Districts, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intercede as well on Monday.

In both challenges rejected Monday, Republican lawmakers argued that the state Supreme Court did not give the legislature enough time to draw a new map and, by imposing its own, violated the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which gives state legislatures authority over elections.

The judges ruled that the state and congressional Republicans did not have standing to seek the injunction, for different reasons.

"The U.S. Supreme Court has again refused to bring the nation's high court into Pennsylvania's Congressional redistricting war".

Several GOP lawmakers found their House districts dramatically affected by the new map, including Rep. Ryan Costello, who is considering retirement, several state and national officials in GOP politics told ABC News. Alito was appointed by President George W. Bush. Democrat Conor Lamb, the apparent victor in the 18th District special election last week, is set to run against Rothfus in the fall.

Republicans were seeking to preserve the map under which they consistently won 13 of the state's 18 House seats ― despite getting only about 50 percent of the total statewide vote in these contests and trailing Democrats in Pennsylvania's voter registration.

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Under the map drawn by a nonpartisan expert and adopted by Democratic justices of Pennsylvania's elected Supreme Court, analysts say Republicans start with an edge in 10 of the 18 districts. "The state court's decision to draw maps takes us down a path for the creation of another legislative body in Pennsylvania".

"This Middle District Court case was dismissed on the legal issue of standing, not on the facts of the case".

Up until Monday afternoon, there was still a lot of uncertainty over whether the new map would stand.

The Supreme Court appeal was filed by February 27 the Republican leaders of the state House and Senate.The legal disputes are lingering even as candidates are in the final stages of collecting petitions to get on the ballot for the May 15 primary.

And a week after Conor Lamb's remarkable win in southwestern Pennsylvania, bars along Second Street will be filled with GOP consultants downing consoling shots as they steel themselves for the campaign to come.

Wolf, a Democrat, lauded the courts' decisions.

"I applaud these decisions that will allow the upcoming election to move forward with the new and fair congressional maps". "The people of Pennsylvania are exhausted of gerrymandering and the new map corrects past mistakes that created unfair congressional districts and attempted to diminish the impact of citizens' votes".

It was always going to be a heavy lift for Republicans looking to overturn what they said was a power-crazed, majority-Democrat, state Supreme Court, to get the new map bounced. The argument that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stepped on the legislature's rights should be brought by the General Assembly as an institution, they wrote.

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