Pennsylvania Republicans Ask Supreme Court to Toss CD Map
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania Republicans have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a state court-approved congressional map, arguing a Democrat-controlled state supreme court exceeded its authority by imposing its own choice of map without the legislature’s approval.
In an emergency request for relief submitted to Justice Samuel Alito Jr., the circuit justice for the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Republicans say the course taken by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was “flagrantly unconstitutional and should be swiftly enjoined.”
“Under the Elections Clause, it is ‘the Legislature’ — and not the judiciary — that must prescribe ‘the Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives,’ and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has no authority to impose a congressional map unless ‘the Legislature’ has authorized it to do so.”
The new map would give an electoral advantage to Democrats and would have split the current district of Rep. Fred Keller, R-Pa., in two.
On Monday, Keller announced he would not seek reelection this year due to the change, adding “rather than pit Republicans against Republicans, which the congressional map chosen by the liberal Pennsylvania Supreme Court does, I am committed to helping take back the House, holding Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seat, and electing a conservative Governor.”
“With control of Congress — and the direction of our nation — at stake, this election is bigger than any one person,” he added.
The case at the center of these developments is Toth Jr. v. Chapman. Filed last month on behalf of four Republicans, including a congressional candidate and a member of the Susquehanna County Board of Elections, the litigation challenges the state court’s system authority to draw new districts after the Legislature failed to do so.
The plaintiffs claimed in their lawsuit that state legislatures are the sole governmental body tasked with redistricting and “any attempt by the state judiciary to usurp the legislature’s constitutionally assigned role must be disregarded by state officials.” Therefore, the plaintiffs argue that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which has already taken over redistricting in the state after an impasse, cannot draw new maps.
The lawsuit alleges that any map imposed by the state supreme court would be “unconstitutional” and the only remedy, unless the General Assembly adopts new maps, is for Pennsylvania to hold at-large elections for congressional members in 2022.”
In their petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, the applicants asked the justices to respond quickly. “Relief is urgently needed because candidates are already campaigning for office under this unconstitutional map, and the statutory deadline for obtaining the needed signatures on nomination petitions is March 8, 2022,” they said. “A belated injunction that pronounces the congressional map unconstitutional after the candidates have gathered the needed signatures and organized their campaigns in reliance on the court-selected map will lead to chaos.”
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