Republicans in the Pennsylvania legislature have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to put on hold a ruling from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court striking down the state’s congressional map and giving them three weeks to draw new districts.
In its application to Justice Samuel Alito, lawyers for the Republican state lawmakers accused the Pennsylvania Supreme Court of “attempting to play the role of a ‘lawmaker.’”
The GOP legislators acknowledged in their filing the high court would typically be unlikely to intervene, but said “where a state court’s purported interpretation is not interpretation at all but rank legislation at the expense of the branch of state government charges with legislation under federal law, this court is both empowered and duty-bound to intervene.”
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Monday the state’s congressional map, drawn by the Republican-led General Assembly, “plainly and palpably violates” the state constitution. The court set a Feb. 9 deadline for the legislature to submit a new congressional districting plan to Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat.
The governor has until Feb. 15 to approve the plan. If the state legislature fails to submit its plan by Feb. 9, or should Wolf reject it, the court said it will “adopt a plan based on the evidentiary record developed in the Commonwealth Court.”
Lawyers for the Republican-led legislature objected to this timeline and the order in its filing to the Supreme Court.
“This state-court decision therefore has cast Pennsylvania’s congressional election into chaos on the eve of the 2018 primary elections, causing substantial injury to the public,” they wrote.
The lawmakers had asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to stay its order, but the court denied the request.
The League of Women Voters challenged the Republican-led legislature’s drawing of the state’s 18 congressional districts and argued it constituted an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. The group claimed in its lawsuit the 2011 voting map “packed” Democratic voters into five Democratic districts. The remaining Democratic voters were spread across 13 other districts, which maintained a Republican majority.