PENNSYLVANIA: State Supreme Court Rules US House Maps Are Unconstitutional, Likely Pickups For Dems

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Mike Stack just announced on Twitter that the state Supreme Court has ruled 4-3 that the state’s US House district maps are unconstitutional, giving the state legislature under a month to redraw the maps.

The Times weighed in on the pending ruling last week:

If Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court rules that the state’s congressional map must be redrawn, Democrats’ opportunities could improve a lot before the midterms. It’s clear that the current one was drawn to the advantage of Republicans. Democrats won only five of the state’s 18 congressional districts in 2012, the year it took effect, even though they won the House statewide popular vote by 1.5 percentage points.

That’s partly because Democrats tend to “waste” votes in heavily Democratic urban areas, like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. But the cartoon-moose-shaped Seventh District, running from Philadelphia city limits to Amish country, is routinely listed among the nation’s most gerrymandered. It’s represented by the Republican Patrick Meehan, who faces a competitive re-election contest in a district that just barely voted for Hillary Clinton.

On this nonpartisan map, the Seventh would become a Democratic stronghold. The map here relies on standard nonpartisan redistricting criteria, like compactness and representing communities of interest. Democrats would make more incremental gains in several other congressional districts where Republicans have taken more subtle steps to reinforce their position.