Last month, Pennsylvania's state Supreme Court ruled that the state's congressional districts were gerrymandered to the point of violating the state constitution, which requires the state to have "free and fair" elections. State Republicans immediately appealed the decision to the US Supreme Court, who today told Pennsylvania to basically figure this out themselves.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let a court-ordered redrawing of congressional districts in Pennsylvania proceed, raising Democratic hopes that a revamped map might yield them several more seats this fall.
Justice Samuel Alito, who handles emergency appeals from Pennsylvania, rejected the request from GOP legislative leaders and voters to put on hold an order from the state Supreme Court intended to produce new congressional districts in the coming two weeks.
The Pennsylvania high court ruled last month that the current map of 18 districts violates the state constitution because it unfairly benefits Republicans.
The decision comes just four days before the Republican-controlled Legislature’s deadline for submitting a replacement map for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to consider. So far, there has been a notable lack of bipartisan movement on getting such a deal.
Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation has been 13-5 in favor of Republicans during the three election cycles since the GOP-drawn 2011 map took effect, and experts have said those 13 seats are several more than would have been produced by a nonpartisan map.
Democrats have about 800,000 more registered voters than Republicans and hold all three elected statewide row offices, but Republicans enjoy solid majorities in both chambers of the Legislature.
With the court order now remaining in effect and the redistricting map due at the end of the week, the GOP is moving to simply impeach and remove the justices who ordered the redistricting.
In a memorandum sent Monday evening to all members of the state house, with the subject line “Impeachment of five PA Supreme Court Justices,” Rep. Cris Dush alleges “the five Justices who signed this order that blatantly and clearly contradicts the plan language of the Pennsylvania Constitution, engaged in misbehavior in office.”
He claims “each is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office and disqualification to hold any office or trust or profit under this Commonwealth.”
Never mind that far-right conservative Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito refused to say the state court’s ruling. Dush is calling on his fellow legislators to join him in his impeachment legislation.
“This is a usurpation of the sovereign power of the legislature under the Pennsylvania Constitution,” he said. “In the Constitution, it’s a contract between the people and the government that they hired to oversee them. And the sovereigns in this issue are God, the people, and the legislature — in that order.”
So we're right back to "Constitutional crisis" for the Keystone State. We'll see where this goes, but whatever happens, it's going to happen fast.