If Pa. high court keeps 2001 districts, Latino groups vow legal action

    Advocates for Latino voters in Pennsylvania say they’ll sue if the rejection of the latest state legislative redistricting plan means this year’s elections will be based on districts set in 2001.

    The group Latino Lines, based in Philadelphia, had made the case before the Legislative Reapportionment Commission that more state House districts should be majority Latino.

    Former Philadelphia City Councilman Angel Ortiz, with Latino Lines, said Tuesday the redistricting map remanded by the state Supreme Court included four such districts.

    He said that would be a big change because Latino voters had only been a majority in one district since the 1980s.

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    “That’s what’s right now at risk — those four districts,” he said.

    Ortiz said the state should push its primary back from April 24 to give the Legislative Reapportionment Commission time to fix district maps to the state Supreme Court’s liking.

    “I think the date of the primary is not etched in stone,” he said. “I think primaries can be held in May or June, as long as they’re held before the general election in November, that’s all that’s needed.

    One state Supreme Court justice has said the current district lines, drawn in 2001, will likely be in effect for this year’s elections.

    That would bring the grand total of majority-Latino districts back down to one.

    “One district here in Philadelphia — that would be packed, (it) would have almost 80 percent Latinos in it, and we would have one person representing the Latino community, period,” Ortiz said

    If the court does decide to keep the current district lines in effect, Ortiz said his group is prepared to take “legal action.”

    Latino Lines isn’t the only group planning legal action.

    State House Speaker Sam Smith has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Secretary of the Commonwealth asking that 2001 district maps not be used for any future elections.

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