GOP Blasts Justice Baer For Pa. Remapping Comments

Philadelphia Inquirer

The Pennsylvania Republican Party, in a funk over the state Supreme Court’s move to kill a legislative redistricting plan in which the GOP had the lion’s share of input, lashed out Thursday at one of the justices, Democrat Max Baer.

Baer earlier gave comments partly explaining the move’s impact to, a subscription news site for political junkies.

Michael Barley, executive director of the GOP, accused Baer of violating the Code of Judicial Conduct by commenting to the media on an ongoing court proceeding.

“The fact that a Pennsylvania Supreme Court judge would make politically motivated comments to the press on a pending court proceeding is absolutely outrageous, especially since the court’s official opinion on the matter has not yet been released,” Barley said.

The comments attributed to Baer by Capitolwire dealt with the court’s decision that a plan to redraw boundaries of state House and Senate districts was unconstitutional. He said the court’s follow-up opinion, outlining its reasons, would come in “a week or so.”

Baer also settled a question debated between Democrats and Republicans on whether it was possible for a new map to be approved in time for the April 24 primary. He said it wasn’t. Current boundaries, in place for a decade, will continue until 2014.

“I think this year’s elections are going to go on the 2001 lines,” Baer said. “I think that is what the majority [of justices] intended, and I think that is what a reading of the chief justice’s order said.”

Baer added that he was surprised by the political explosion that followed the justices’ 4-3 vote on the Legislative Reapportionment Commission’s plan.

“I did not expect this maelstrom,” he said. “I don’t think any of us did. But in 40 years since the constitution established this procedure, this is the first the court has voted to not rubber-stamp the commission’s work.”

Baer did not respond Thursday to a request from The Inquirer for comment. He was on his way to Puerto Rico with two other justices to attend a meeting of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

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