Pa. Supreme Court court tosses redistricting plan for General Assembly

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has thrown out a redistricting plan for the state’s House and Senate districts, casting many of this year’s political races into turmoil.

The stunning four-to-three ruling late Wednesday afternoon does not affect congressional districts. But it means candidates for the state Legislature who were running for seats in newly drawn districts likely will have to run in the districts as they were before.

The plan was crafted by a five-member Legislative Reapportionment Commission, composed of legislative leaders and an appointed judge. A host of Democrats challenged the plan, including Delaware County party chairman David Landau.

Landau said the commission manipulated district boundaries to give Republicans an electoral advantage.

“The Pennsylvania Constitution requires, to the greatest extent possible, that municipalities be kept intact,” Landau said in a telephone interview after the ruling. “This plan, and specifically in Delaware County, split a number of small towns into two different legislative districts – towns like Swarthmore, Darby, (and) Yeadon.”

The court said the reapportionment commission will have to try again.

Three justices dissented from the ruling, saying that the plan did not violate the law “as reflected in the existing precedent.”

The majority issued an order and said a supporting opinion would follow.

In the meantime, the court ordered that all state House and Senate districts revert to their boundaries before the commission’s plan was issued. And the court adjusted filing deadlines for those offices to give candidates a little more time to circulate nominating petitions. They’re now due Feb. 16.

Read the court’s order and the dissenting justices’ statement here.

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