Tomorrow, March 9, 2018, the 18 voters who successfully challenged Pennsylvania’s 2011 congressional map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander will head to federal court to protect Pennsylvania’s new, non-partisan congressional map put in place by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. They are represented by the Public Interest Law Center and Arnold & Porter.
On Friday, a three-judge federal district court panel will hear oral argument in a new, federal lawsuit brought by Pennsylvania Senators Corman and Folmer and eight congressional representatives. The legislators claim that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court violated the federal Elections Clause when it found the 2011 congressional map unconstitutional and adopted a new map.
The Court will hear argument on the voters’ and state election officials’ motions to dismiss the new lawsuit, as well as the legislators’ motion for a preliminary injunction, which seeks to stop implementation of the new map and put the old map back in place for 2018.
“Every single argument in this new federal lawsuit was raised and rejected in our state court challenge to the 2011 map,” said Elisabeth Theodore of Arnold & Porter. “These new plaintiffs don’t get another bite at the apple in federal court.”
“The state legislators and congressmen want a federal court to overrule the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on a matter of state constitutional law. That is not how it works,” said Stanton Jones of Arnold & Porter. “This new federal lawsuit violates every rule in the book.”
“Nearly a century of precedent from the U.S. Supreme Court rejects their argument that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overstepped its bounds,” said Mimi McKenzie, Legal Director at the Public Interest Law Center. “And let’s not lose sight of the fact that in spite of their claims, the state legislature was given adequate time to draw a constitutional map. This is not about not having enough time. This is about the legislative leaders wanting another election with a gerrymandered map.”
“As a matter of federal law, the federal court cannot rewind the clock and put the old 2011 map back in place,” said Dan Jacobson of Arnold & Porter. “Instead, Pennsylvania would be required to hold at-large elections for all 18 congressional seats. Of course, it should not come to that as the remedial map was adopted properly.”
“Claims that the new map is causing chaos or confusion are false,” said Ben Geffen of the Public Interest Law Center. “The new districts have been publicly available for weeks, and candidates and voters are getting ready for the May 15 primary as they do in every election. The only confusion has been created by the legislators pursuing desperate legal arguments in multiple courts.”
Argument begins at 11:00 a.m. in Courtroom #2, Ninth Floor, of the U. S. Courthouse and Federal Building located at 228 Walnut Street in Harrisburg. Attorneys Stanton Jones and Elisabeth Theodore of Arnold & Porter will present oral argument on behalf of the voters.
As the federal lawsuit continues, Senator Scarnati and Speaker Turzai await a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in their second request to stay the new map. In early February, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an almost identical request.
Click here to view plaintiffs’, defendants’, and intervenors’ motions and briefs.
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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.
Arnold & Porter is a law firm of more than 1,000 lawyers across nine domestic and four international offices with more than 30 practice areas spanning a broad spectrum of the law, with a primary focus on litigation, transactional matters, and regulatory issues, as well as a wide range of industries, including those involving the life sciences and financial services areas. Arnold & Porter has established one of the world’s leading law firm pro bono programs. Our pro bono commitment is key to who we are and is the reason why many of our attorneys have made their professional home here. We believe that all lawyers have an obligation to do pro bono work, and we strive to maintain that commitment. For more information visit https://www.arnoldporter.com.