Pennsylvania Redraws Gerrymandered Districts


Matilda Melkonian

“Whether in your favor or not, gerrymandering is wrong and undemocratic,” said David Lipkin ’18.

In anticipation of the 2018 midterm elections, the Supreme Court voted on February 5, 2018, that Pennsylvania’s highest court ruling, requiring lawmakers to redraw the state’s congressional district map, would stand. Pennsylvania originally had until February 15th to draw their new map.

The case was first brought to the Supreme Court by Pennsylvania Republicans when the state Supreme Court found the extremely partisan congressional districts to go against the state constitution, as they were favoring the Republican party. As cited from their constitution, “elections shall be free and equal,” and the overly gerrymandered districts do not ensure an equal election.

Gerrymandering is the manipulation of lines dividing congressional districts to favor one party versus another. Two methods of gerrymandering are ‘cracking’ and ‘packing’; either cracking up districts so that, for example, there are not enough Democrats in any district so that they do not win that area, or packing all the Democrats into one district so that they only win one or two districts out of, for example, fifteen. “In gerrymandering, there is always clear favoritism. In Pennsylvania’s case, there was no question that the lines were unfair,” said Aliana Sheers ’18.

With the previous Pennsylvania map, thirteen of Pennsylvania’s eighteen seats in the House of Representatives were Republican. An increasingly nonpartisan map could possibly help Democrats regain the House, making three seats lean more Democratic, and less Republican.

On February 13, 2018, two days before Pennsylvania’s deadline, their governor, Tom Wolf, vetoed the redrawn map put forth, claiming that it was still gerrymandered. As published in The New York Times, President Trump was upset with the Supreme Court’s decision to even reconsider the map in the first place, stating that the redrawn map was “unfair to Republicans and our country.”

“Whether in your favor or not, gerrymandering is wrong and undemocratic,” said David Lipkin ’18.

Currently, Republican lawmakers have filed a federal lawsuit against Pennsylvania, saying that the state went against its constitutional authority when it discarded the old map and proposed a new one. They now are aiming for the impeachment of the five state justices making the decision.

Although this case might be soon settled for Pennsylvania, partisan gerrymandering and its constitutionality is still an issue at hand for several reasons. Gerrymandering can come in many forms, including racial and partisan gerrymandering. This June, the Supreme Court will decide on whether or not gerrymandering goes against the US Constitution. If found unconstitutional, several states will be be forced to redraw their maps prior to the 2020 elections.