aside US Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Case Where PA Courts Struck Down Current Gerrymandering Plans

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Republicans in the State of Pennsylvania pushed the envelop in dividing the state into voting sections which were so skewed that democrats would lose state and US congressional seats even when they had the majority of votes. This is called gerrymandering. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court intervened to declare that the map as drawn by republicans was unconstitutional. The republicans did not give up on this battle easily and they took their case to the US Supreme Court which is refusing to even hear the case.

This is just one more time that the US courts have stepped into the fray to stop republicans  from winning elections by cheating the American voters.

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Here’s the rest of the story… 

On February 5, 2018, Adam Liptak of the New York Times penned the following report, “Justices Won’t Block Pennsylvania Gerrymandering Decision


” The United States Supreme Court on Monday refused to stop Pennsylvania’s highest court from requiring lawmakers there to redraw the state’s congressional map, which the state court had found to be marred by partisan gerrymandering.”

“The Supreme Court’s order was expected, as the Pennsylvania court had based its decision solely on the state constitution. On matters of state law, the judgments of state supreme courts are typically final.”

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“The order, which gave no reasons, came from Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who acted without referring the case to the full court.”

“The Supreme Court has been busy lately addressing cases on partisan gerrymandering, in which the party in power draws voting districts to give its candidates lopsided advantages. It is considering two such cases, from Wisconsin and Maryland, and has intervened in a third one, from North Carolina. But all of those cases were decided by federal courts.”

“The latest decision, from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, struck down the state’s congressional map, saying it “clearly, plainly and palpably” violated the state’s Constitution. The court told state lawmakers to redraw the state’s 18 House districts, which currently favor Republicans, and it left open the possibility that it would impose its own map.”

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“Under the current map, Republicans control 13 of those 18 seats. Election law experts say that a nonpartisan map could move as many as three of those seats to Democrats and increase that party’s chances of regaining control of the House in the midterm elections this fall.”

“The State Supreme Court’s 5-2 decision divided along partisan lines, with the Democratic justices in the majority and the Republicans in dissent. The majority has promised to issue an opinion providing its detailed reasoning but has yet to do so.”

“Republican lawmakers filed an emergency application last month asking the United States Supreme Court to step in, saying the case was partly governed by federal law. They pointed to Article I, Section 4 of the United States Constitution, which says that the times, places and manners of congressional elections “shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof.”

“The lawmakers said the State Supreme Court had thus usurped the legislature’s role in violation of federal law. They relied on a closely divided 2015 decision from the United States Supreme Court allowing an independent redistricting commission in Arizona rather than its Legislature to draw congressional districts.”

 “The commission had been authorized by a referendum, and the justices in the majority said that the Constitution’s reference to “legislature” encompassed the people’s legislative power when acting through ballot initiatives. The dissenters said the term legislature should have been read more narrowly.”

“The lawmakers in the Pennsylvania case argued that the term was in any event not elastic enough to encompass a court.”

“In response, lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, pointed to another part of the Arizona decision’s discussion of Article I, Section 4. “Nothing in that clause instructs, nor has this court ever held, that a state legislature may prescribe regulations on the time, place and manner of holding federal elections in defiance of provisions of the state’s Constitution,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority.”

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“(The US Supreme Court) rarely intervenes in election cases from state courts. A notable exception was Bush v. Gore, the 2000 decision that handed the presidency to George W. Bush.”

“Granting review of this case,” lawyers for Mr. Wolf wrote, “would represent an unprecedented encroachment on the rights of state courts to delineate the boundaries of state law.”

“Lawyers for the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, which challenged the state’s congressional map along with several voters, were even more direct. “There is no partisan gerrymandering exception to federalism,” they wrote.”


  1. How did the Republican get away with this electoral map in the first place? Or was it not obvious what the new districts would lead to? Someone in the state electoral system was sleeping on the job. Someone else in the demo party was also sleeping on the job. There are probably examples of gerrymandering in Canadian politics, but that would be harder here with our 3 party system. In the States, though, this partisan election rigging process seems to be more than accidental. I am glad the courts are trying to stop just outright partisan activity from trying to take place, but will they succeed? I will be looking forward to see how the electoral map of Pennsylvania will look by November of this year.
    Meanwhile, I have to ask, is this “WIN AT ANY COST” style of politics what the US is all about? When will level heads prevail, if ever?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Rawgod,

      You are asking the same questions that all of us in the USA are asking. Most of us are in the middle. Because in part of this gerrymandering games, there are too many folks in the US Congress who are from the extremes from both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party who cannot seem to work together when most Americans are more moderate and are looking at all of this with disgust.

      The one benefit for the presidency of President Trump is that a lot of us have gotten off the couch to become more involved in our politics. We can’t afford to stand on the sidelines.

      These are literally crazy times in the USA.

      Hugs, Gronda


  2. This is an interesting post, Gronda. Thankfully in Canada, we have non-partisan civil servants who are in charge of re-drawing electoral maps in federal and provincial levels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear John Fioravanti,

      I like Canada’s way of handling this much better. Most of us would prefer that the state voting maps be drawn by non partisans who are familiar with the state.To leave this task in the hands of politicians from either side of the aisle, is asking for trouble.

      Hugs, Gronda

      Liked by 1 person

      • Our federal Chief Electoral Officer must give up his/her right to vote when they take the job in order to preserve the non-partisan nature of the office. I don’t know if we originated the practice or whether we borrowed it from the Brits.

        Liked by 1 person

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