Harrisburg, Pa. – In a desperate move, Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph B. Scarnati III, with consent from House Speaker Michael C. Turzai and the General Assembly, filed papers to remove Pennsylvania’s gerrymandering lawsuit from state court to federal court.
“We firmly oppose this gambit. The legislative respondents will seemingly do anything to avoid defending their gerrymandered map in the Pennsylvania state courts,” said Mimi McKenzie, Legal Director of the Public Interest Law Center and an attorney for the voters bringing this lawsuit. “This is another blatant attempt at delay. It is shameful that our elected officials want to prevent Pennsylvania voters from having their day in court and obtaining a new, non-partisan map in time for the 2018 election.”
“This baseless delay tactic is yet another sign that the congressional district map is unconstitutional,” said Stanton Jones of Arnold & Porter Kay Scholer LLP, also an attorney for the petitioners. “Partisans in the legislature appear increasingly desperate to avoid having to defend their map at trial—because it is indefensible. This latest maneuver, trying to remove the case to federal court, is a cynical misuse of the law.”
Attorneys for the petitioners have filed an emergency request asking for the case to be remanded back to state court immediately. The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has cancelled today’s scheduling conference. Meanwhile the Federal Court has scheduled a hearing for 2 p.m. this afternoon led by Judge Baylson, who is currently hearing a separate redistricting case brought under the federal constitution.
The attorneys from the Public Interest Law Center and Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP represent the 18 individual petitioners (one from each U.S. Congressional District) in this challenge. Filed in June in the state’s Commonwealth Court, the lawsuit alleges the current U.S. Congressional map violates the Pennsylvania Constitution because it was designed to override voter preferences and create a lopsided majority in favor of Republican representatives.
All case documents can be found here: https://www.pubintlaw.org/cases-and-projects/pennsylvania-redistricting-lawsuit-case-documents/
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The Public Interest Law Center uses high-impact legal strategies to advance the civil, social, and economic rights of communities in the Philadelphia region facing discrimination, inequality, and poverty. We use litigation, community education, advocacy, and organizing to secure their access to fundamental resources and services in the areas of public education, housing, health care, employment, environmental justice and voting. For more information visit www.pubintlaw.org or follow on Twitter @PubIntLawCtr.
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