Remedial Redistricting Process in Pennsylvania Can Serve as Nationwide Model for Fair Maps
Multiple states can follow PA’s lead if U.S. Supreme Court adopts a standard for measuring unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering
WASHINGTON – Today, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an order with a new congressional district map for the state’s 2018 elections after it ruled in January that the existing map’s district lines were an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. According to the website Planscore, a tool developed by political science and election law experts to score district plans, the Pennsylvania U.S. House plan released today has relatively low partisan asymmetry, is more compact and is more competitive than both the plans that were used in the last three elections and the one vetoed by Governor Tom Wolf last week. This process proved that the court was able to work with an expert consultant to produce a final plan that will treat voters of both parties fairly.
“The remedial process in Pennsylvania has shown that using public input, a manageable standard, and modern technology, it is possible to draw fair maps that are free from extreme partisan bias,” said Ruth Greenwood, senior legal counsel, voting rights and redistricting at Campaign Legal Center (CLC), a lawyer on the legal team for the landmark partisan gerrymandering case out of Wisconsin, Gill v. Whitford. “We can expect this process to work in multiple states if the Supreme Court adopts a standard for measuring unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering. Fortunately for voters in Pennsylvania, using extreme partisan bias to draw state voting maps is now measurable, and the public showed it was able to hold politicians accountable by demanding fair maps. After three elections with unconstitutional plans, the state has finally corrected this.”
The U.S. Supreme Court has a chance this term to use a standard to evaluate partisan gerrymandering and use that to evaluate the partisan implications of district plans. And now, the public has the ability to utilize Planscore’s upload page to analyze partisan bias in state plans.
CLC supports the right to equal representation regardless of partisan affiliation and opposes extreme partisan gerrymanders across the country. CLC submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Jan. 5, 2018 in support of the maps’ challengers, who were the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania. CLC is representing the Wisconsin voters that challenged the state’s maps in the landmark partisan gerrymandering case, Gill V. Whitford. The Court will decide on the case this term.