How would pending litigation in Pennsylvania affect our efforts to achieve an independent citizens redistricting commission?
Two redistricting lawsuits in Pennsylvania are likely getting your attention. The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania v PA General Assembly is being heard in PA Commonwealth Court and Agre v Wolf is being heard by the PA Eastern District Court (a federal court). Both have hearings in early December.
Commonwealth Court could order the General Assembly to redraw the map in time for the 2018 election, but the court would not order that the lines be drawn by an independent commission. Even if the lines are redrawn for 2018, it will have to be done again after the 2020 census, because PA is expected to lose another congressional seat.
The one thing that could change significantly and permanently is that the state or federal court, or both, could establish new constitutional standards for what criteria may or may not be used to draw the lines, regardless of who is drawing them.
If that happens, the question will come up whether an independent commission is still needed. The answer is yes, because legislative leaders will always try to draw districts that protect incumbents and solidify their majorities, even if some of the rules have changed.
While it’s possible one of these lawsuits might result in a new Congressional district map for the 2018 and 2020 elections, we strongly believe the best, long-term solution is an independent citizens redistricting commission that would end the current conflict of interest.