Breaking: Supreme Court Upholds New Pa. House & Senate Lines

Politics PA

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a map. In a unanimous decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Wednesday approved the latest redistricting effort by lawmakers.

The 2014 elections will be fought along lines determined in a 4-1 vote by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission in June 2012.

The decision is a win for Republicans, who largely drove the map-drawing process and will secure their hold on a number of now former swing districts. House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny) joined LRC Chairman Steven McEwen and House and Senate Majority Leaders Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) and Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) in support. State Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) opposed the plan.

You can view high-resolution versions of the House map here (PDF) and the Senate map here (PDF). The House districts to move are:

HD-5. Retired Rep. John Evans’ (R) seat moves from Eric/Crawford counties to Berks. State Rep. Greg Lucas won the seat in 2012.
HD-22. Former Rep., now County Controller Chelsa Wagner’s (D) seat from Allegheny County to Allentown, where it will be a majority Hispanic district. State Rep. Erin Molchany (D) won the seat in 2012.
HD-74. Retired Rep. Bud George’s (D) seat from Clearfield County to Chester. State Rep. Tommy Sankey (R) won the seat in 2012.
HD-115. Retired Rep, Ed Staback’s (D) seat from Lackawanna/Luzerne counties next door to Monroe. Rep. Frank Farina (D) won the seat in 2012.
HD-169. Former Rep., now Philly Councilman Denny O’Brien’s (R-) seat from northeast Philadelphia to southern York County. Rep. Ed Neilson (D) won the seat in 2012.

State Senate district 40 (Jane Orie’s former seat) is moving from the North Hills of Allegheny County to Monroe County in northeast Pa.

The Court threw out an initial version of the maps back in January 2012, spurring a chaotic few weeks as candidates scrambled to figure out which districts they were running in.

Chief Justice Ron Castille broke with his Republican colleagues to vote down the maps in a 4-3 decision.

Instead of new lines, as would have been normal, state House and Senate candidates ran on 2001 lines in the 2012 election.

The Court’s rationale in throwing out the initial versions was that they made too many unnecessary splits in counties, municipalities and other subdivisions.

After the LRC passed a revised plan in 2012, challengers including representatives of the Pa. Senate Democrats petitioned the Court to throw out the new versions, too. They said the new version also made too many splits, and were pastian.

But in the majority opinion, Chief Justice Castille wrote that, ” political parties may seek partisan advantage to their proverbial heart’s content, so long as they do so,” within constitutional constraints.

Convicted former Justice Joan Orie Melvin did not participate in the 6-0 decision.

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