Pennsylvanians Challenge Partisan Gerrymandering of Congressional Districts in New Lawsuit

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  • David Vance

The Public Interest Law Center filed a lawsuit in state court today on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and individual voters challenging the state’s congressional districts as an illegal partisan gerrymander. League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is one of a series of suits nationwide challenging extreme partisan gerrymanders that have left millions of Americans with no opportunity to elect the candidates of their choice. Plaintiffs in the Pennsylvania suit argue that the state’s congressional map violates the Pennsylvania Constitution. Common Cause Pennsylvania, a leader in the Fair Districts PA coalition, played a key role in the recruitment of several individual plaintiffs. An individual plaintiff lives in each of the state’s 18 congressional districts.

“Wealthy special interests poured piles of dark money into Pennsylvania to ensure one-party control of redistricting after the 2010 census, and the biased maps they got make incumbents virtually unbeatable at the polls,” said Ken Myers, chair of Common Cause Pennsylvania. “Legislators and partisan political consultants manipulated districts behind closed doors for political advantage with little regard for fair representation. We hope that this lawsuit succeeds and results in the drawing of congressional districts that put voters and not politicians first.”

“It is clear that the public has had enough of a system in which politicians choose their voters instead of the other way around,” said Dan Vicuna, national redistricting manager at Common Cause. “Rather than giving up hope of their voices being heard in elections, and deferring to politicians who handpick their own constituents, citizens are challenging these backroom deals in courts across the country. Gerrymandering is about partisan power, not people. Common Cause holds power accountable as a nonpartisan organization, taking on Democrats who gerrymandered Maryland and Republicans in North Carolina and Wisconsin.”

Several challenges to congressional and state legislative maps will go to court soon. The U.S. Supreme Court could announce as early as next week that it will hear Gill v. Whitford, an appeal of a federal trial court ruling that Wisconsin’s State Assembly is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. On June 26, Common Cause’s challenge of North Carolina’s congressional map, Common Cause v. Rucho, will go to trial jointly with a separate challenge brought by the Campaign Legal Center and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. Later this year, a federal three-judge panel will hear Benisek v. Lamone, a case challenging Maryland’s gerrymandered congressional map.