Pennsylvania Republicans are expected meet their Friday deadline to submit to Gov. Tom Wolf a new congressional map after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court invalidated the map last month, according to a report.
Drew Compton, chief of staff and counsel to Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati told the Wall Street Journal leaders of the GOP-controlled General Assembly are nearing completion of the new map. The map with the newly drawn congressional districts will then be sent to Wolf, a Democrat, who has until Feb. 15 to approve the map and send it to the state Supreme Court.
Compton said the state House and Senate will not be able to vote on the new congressional districts until next week.
If the state General Assembly fails to agree upon a new congressional map, or if Wolf rejects the plan, the state’s high court said it would draw a new map, and announced in a Jan. 26 order it retained Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford Law School professor, to assist the court.
Compton told the Wall Street Journal the new congressional map will have districts that are more compact and keeps counties, cities, and towns intact. He also said those who drafted the new congressional map took “some consideration” of where current members of Congress live, as “incumbency can matter to a reasonable degree.”
The drafters of the new map also tried to limit the number of voters who may end up with a new congressional district.
Wolf said in a statement Friday he has been building a team, including a mathematician, and “knowledge base to make sure Pennsylvania can get a fair map," and said he would work to "ensure that fair maps become Pennsylvania's new reality."
“While an ideal scenario would be a consensus map that can garner the support of both chambers in the General Assembly and that meets standards for fairness, it remains unclear, at this time, if the entire General Assembly will be engaged in such a bipartisan process,” Wolf said. “If not, I will evaluate what options are at my disposal to ensure Pennsylvanians get the fair map they deserve under our constitution.”
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court deemed the congressional map an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander in an order last month.
In its 139-page opinion released Thursday, the state high court slammed the redistricting plan drafted by the GOP-led state legislature in 2011, saying it was “aimed at achieving unfair partisan gain.” The court also slammed gerrymandering as having “corrosive effects on our entire democratic process through the deliberate dilution of our citizenry's individual votes.”
Under the map, Republicans hold 13 of Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional seats.
Republican leaders attempted to fight the state high court's order.
GOP lawmakers asked Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito to halt the state Supreme Court’s ruling, arguing the justices usurped the legislature’s authority to draw congressional districts.
But Alito denied their request earlier this week.
A lawyer for Scarnati also indicated last week the Republican lawmaker would not comply with an order from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court requiring the state legislature to hand over data.
One Republican state lawmaker attempted to rally members of the state House around legislation that would attempt to impeach the five state Supreme Court justices.