Pennsylvania Redistricting Lawsuit


Legislative Leaders Should Stop Wasting Time and Learn to Live with New Map

This evening Speaker Turzai and Senator Scarnati ran back to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking another emergency stay on the same frivolous theory that the Court will agree to hear the case and ultimately invalidate the new congressional map put in place on Monday by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

“At the risk of repeating ourselves, there was no good argument three weeks ago, and there is no good argument now for the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and undo a final judgment and remedy issued by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court,” said Stanton Jones, Partner with Arnold & Porter, which is representing the petitioners along with the Public Interest Law Center. “Legislative leaders should stop wasting taxpayer funds and accept that Pennsylvania voters will finally get to cast ballots in free and fair congressional elections this year.”

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court gave the legislators three weeks to draw a new map, which was the amount of time their lawyers told the Court they needed.

“Pennsylvania election officials have already started to implement the new map and have assured voters that they can run orderly and efficient elections under this time frame,” said Mimi McKenzie, Legal Director at the Public Interest law Center. “The primary will still be held on May 15, 2018. Voters will vote at their normal polling locations and have nearly three months to get to know the candidates on the ballot.”

Pennsylvania’s 2011 congressional map was an extreme partisan gerrymander that violated the Pennsylvania Constitution. The new map issued by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was developed with the assistance of Dr. Nathaniel Persily, one of the nation’s most renowned redistricting experts from Stanford and is not drawn to favor either party. The map promotes all of the traditional district criteria that the court identified. It splits far fewer counties and municipalities, and is far more compact, than the extreme partisan gerrymander that was the 2011 map.

“Any claim that the new map tilts the playing field in favor of Democrats is false and has no grounding in reality,” said Dan Jacobson of Arnold & Porter. “All of the data shows that the new map, if anything, slightly favors Republicans.”

For instance, under the objective metrics used to evaluate a plan for partisan bias such as the efficiency gap and mean-median gap, the new map produces a small Republican advantage. Similarly, using the 2016 presidential election results, the new map predicts a 10-8 Republican outcome. Nonpartisan experts have similarly found no signs of gerrymandering in the new Pennsylvania congressional map. These include PlanScore, Aaron Bycoffee of 538, and Professor Sam Wang at Princeton.

“And one of Petitioners’ expert witnesses, Carnegie Mellon mathematician Wesley Pegden, has developed a mathematical tool that can evaluate whether a districting map has been carefully crafted to benefit one party,” explained Ben Geffen, also an attorney with the Public Interest Law Center. “With a high degree of statistical certainty, his tool identified Pennsylvania’s 2011 Congressional plan as a partisan gerrymander designed to benefit Republicans. By contrast, analysis of the new Pennsylvania congressional map from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court detects no evidence of partisan intent.”