On May 21st Common Cause Pennsylvania presented the Democracy Defender Awards to the eighteen plaintiffs of the PA Supreme Court gerrymandering case during the Democracy Works Summit, held at the Sheraton Downtown Hotel in Philadelphia. The award is given to a group, organization or individual who has displayed commitment to achieving democracy in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The plaintiffs, who represented each of Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional districts, provided testimony on the adverse impacts of the extreme partisan gerrymander passed by the legislature in 2011. Since the successful court challenge to the map, the group has continued, beyond the successful court case, to become strong advocates in promoting solutions to issues such as gerrymandering, voting rights, and others. Some have contributed opinion letters to newspapers, been featured speakers with community groups, and a variety of other activities to help promote democracy.
“The commitment and valor of these 18 plaintiffs to fight for democracy in Pennsylvania is admirable,” said Micah Sims, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania. “We applaud their perseverance to see this lawsuit to it completion. Common Cause Pennsylvania hopes this will encourage more everyday citizens to stand up, be heard and act on behalf of what is right for everyone.”
Also, during the awards reception Common Cause Pennsylvania recognized the lead plaintiff, League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and legal counsel for the plaintiffs, Public Interest Law Center. Both of these organizations independently and collaboratively worked to expose our congressional maps as extremely partisan gerrymandered. In the face of stiff opposition, both of these organizations stood strong and proved that justice still prevails in Pennsylvania.
The plaintiff recipients of the 2018 Democracy Defender Award:
- CARMEN FEBO SAN MIGUEL, PA 1st Congressional District (Philadelphia)
- JAMES SOLOMON, PA 2nd Congressional District (Philadelphia)
- JOHN GREINER, PA 3rd Congressional District (Erie)
- JOHN CAPOWSKI, PA 4th Congressional District (York)
- GRETCHEN BRANDT, PA 5th Congressional District (State College)
- THOMAS RENTSCHLER, PA 6th Congressional District (Berks & Chester Counties)
- MARY ELIZABETH LAWN, PA 7th Congressional District (Delaware County)
- LISA ISAACS, PA 8th Congressional District (Bucks County)
- DON LANCASTER, PA 9th Congressional District (Johnstown)
- JORDI COMAS, PA 10th Congressional District (Tioga & Bradford Counties)
- ROBERT SMITH, PA 11th Congressional District (Hazelton, Harrisburg)
- WILLIAM MARX, PA 12th Congressional District (Allegheny County)
- RICHARD MANTELL, PA 13th Congressional District (Montgomery County)
- PRISCILLA MCNULTY, PA 14th Congressional District (Pittsburgh)
- THOMAS ULRICH, PA 15th Congressional District (Allentown)
- ROBERT MCKINSTRY, PA 16th Congressional District (Lancaster County)
- MARK LICHTY, PA 17th Congressional District (Scranton)
- LORRAINE PETROSKY, PA 18th Congressional District (Westmoreland & Washington Counties)
Photographs of the recipients at the award ceremony are available upon request.