The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and the 18 Pennsylvania voters who successfully challenged Pennsylvania’s 2011 congressional plan in state court are protecting their hard-fought final judgment and remedy by filing a motion to intervene in a baseless federal lawsuit filed today challenging the new map. The proposed intervenors continue to be represented by the Public Interest Law Center and Arnold & Porter.
Late this afternoon, two Republican state senators, along with several Republican congressional representatives, filed a federal lawsuit asking the court to stop Pennsylvania election officials from holding the 2018 congressional elections under the remedial map adopted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and instead to mandate that the elections be held under the unconstitutional 2011 map.
“This new federal lawsuit is the latest in a series of vexatious tactics by Pennsylvania Republican leaders attempting to cling to the unconstitutional 2011 map. From their frivolous arguments in one court after another, to their baseless attempts to disqualify or even impeach justices of the state high court, Senator Scarnati, Speaker Turzai, and their deputies will seemingly say or do anything to deny Pennsylvania voters a voice in who represents them in Washington,” said Stanton Jones, Partner at Arnold & Porter. “Their claim that state courts lack power to adopt remedial congressional maps is not only foreclosed by U.S. Supreme Court decisions spanning a century, it was rejected by Justice Alito just weeks ago.”
“This is the lawmakers’ fourth attempt in as many months to get the federal courts to engage in a case that is based solely on state law. Federal courts cannot review decisions of state courts construing state law,” said Mimi McKenzie, Legal Director at the Public Interest Law Center. “It is time for legislative leaders to take their jobs as elected officials seriously and to stop perpetuating legal shenanigans that will amount to nothing and that are costing taxpayers money.”
“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.”