Pennsylvania Redistricting Lawsuit


Voters ask Federal Court to dismiss legislative leaders’ challenge to new map

The 18 voters who brought a successful state constitutional challenge against Pennsylvania’s 2011 congressional map are continuing to defend the new, fair map from unfounded legal threats by Pennsylvania politicians.

Represented by the Public Interest Law Center and Arnold & Porter, today the 18 petitioners from League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania et al. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania et al. filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings and a brief in opposition to a preliminary injunction in a federal lawsuit designed to stop Pennsylvania election officials from holding the 2018 elections under the new map. Pennsylvania Senators Corman and Folmer, as well as eight Pennsylvania congressmen, filed the lawsuit last week. Yesterday a three-judge district court panel granted the voters permission to intervene in the case. They did not allow the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania to intervene.

“Just like their previously dismissed legal attacks on the state supreme court and its decision, this new lawsuit has no merit. It asks a federal court to get involved in a state constitutional issue that was decided by the state’s high court. As we say in our brief, it is a cornerstone of the American judicial system that federal courts cannot review a state court’s decision on state laws. This lawsuit should be dismissed immediately,” said Mimi McKenzie of the Public Interest Law Center.

“Pennsylvania’s Republican politicians seemingly will do anything to avoid fair elections this year in which all Pennsylvania voters’ voices are heard,” said Dan Jacobson of Arnold & Porter. “This federal suit is just another part of a concerted effort to obstruct democracy for the 2018 election cycle.”

While this new action was filed in federal district court in Harrisburg, Senator Scarnati and Speaker Turzai, who were both defendants in the original state lawsuit, have again requested a stay of the new map from the U.S. Supreme Court, even though that Court denied an almost identical request for a stay on February 5. As they did the last time around, attorneys for the 18 voters will file a response to that request on Monday, March 5.

“The gerrymandered 2011 map is gone and it isn’t coming back.  Pennsylvania politicians should focus on running for office in the new, fair districts, rather than pressing yet another baseless legal action,” said Elisabeth Theodore of Arnold & Porter. “The claim that the General Assembly wasn’t given enough time to draw and enact a new map is false. They had more time than it took to enact the gerrymandered 2011 map.”

A hearing on the motion to dismiss and preliminary injunction is set for Friday, March 9 at 11:00 a.m. in Courtroom 2, 9th Floor of the U. S. Courthouse and Federal Building in Harrisburg.