Although the president has chosen to ignore the issue in favor of going on about the non-existent problem of non-citizens voting, there remain serious issues with making sure that voters’ voices are actually heard in the American electoral system. The issue isn’t with voices that don’t belong being allowed in, as Trump claims; rather, the issue is with the voices of American voters being snuffed out.
One way in which that is accomplished is through gerrymandering, the process in which electoral district lines are drawn to favor one political party over the other. The Congressional district lines crafted for Pennsylvania in 2011 were created in such a way, but earlier this year, the state Supreme Court threw those lines out and demanded that new ones be crafted ahead of the midterm elections later this year.
The old lines favored Republicans by a large margin, with the party able to win about two-thirds of the state’s Congressional seats while finishing with a significantly smaller portion of the statewide overall vote.
Unsurprisingly, Republicans have mounted legal challenges to the state Supreme Court’s decision against the GOP-favoring 2011 lines, but on Monday, one of those challenges came to an end when a panel of federal judges on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania threw it out.
The judges’ conclusion reads, in part:
‘The plaintiffs invite us to opine on the appropriate balance of power between the Commonwealth’s legislature and judiciary in redistricting matters, and then to pass judgment on the propriety of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s actions under the United States Constitution. These are things that, on the present record, we cannot do.’
In other words, they’re not going to engage with Republican ideological bickering although the eight sitting Republican congressmen and two GOP state senators behind the case would no doubt certainly like them to.
The Republicans behind the case argued that the state Supreme Court overstepped its bounds and gave the state legislature a deadline too short of a distance in the future to come up with a new map after the initial ruling against the 2011 map. The state government did not come up with a new map before that deadline and the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court summarily issued its own new map.
Besides the challenge just dismissed by Pennsylvania judges, there is also a pending request from Republicans before the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay on the implementation of the new map.
The new Pennsylvania Congressional map creates two more districts than before that were won by Hillary Clinton; previously, she won six of the state’s 18 districts, but under the new map, there are ten that she won.
Pennsylvania elections were in the news recently for a reason other than the controversy over the map.
In the race to fill the seat vacated by disgraced Republican Tim Murphy, Democrat Conor Lamb prevailed over Republican Rick Saccone with a slim winning margin.
Lamb’s victory was especially striking considering the fact that President Trump had won the district by about 20 points in the 2016 presidential election. Trump personally campaigned on behalf of Saccone, but that wasn’t enough to save his candidacy.
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