Letter: Turzai rebuts column on redistricting fight

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To The Editor,

Your recent editorial regarding the League of Women Voters v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania redistricting lawsuit leaves out some important facts, which your readers should know.

Please note that the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed the 2011 Pennsylvania congressional map by a vote of 136-61, with 100 Republicans voting “yes” and 36 Democrats voting “yes.” Passing the bill requires 102 votes. This map was the result of bipartisan work between representatives elected by their constituents.

We have now used the existing maps for three straight elections. It wasn’t until President Donald Trump was elected that a flurry of liberal activists began challenging congressional maps across the country, including Pennsylvania.

Keep in mind that a three-judge federal court panel in the Agre case upheld the 2011 Pennsylvania congressional map as constitutional with respect to the U.S. Constitution on Jan. 10. Less than two weeks later, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court invalidated the 2011 Pennsylvania congressional map on the basis of the state constitution – which has no explicit language addressing the drawing of congressional district lines. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court did this on a partisan 5-2 Democrat-to-Republican split. One of the justices actually campaigned on invalidating the Pennsylvania congressional map before being elected to the bench.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court entered an order, without opinion, on January 22.  The Court gave the General Assembly until February 9 – just 18 days – to submit a remedial map to the Governor.  The Court did not file its opinion until February 7, just two days before the deadline.

We filed an Emergency Application for a Stay with the United States Supreme Court on February 21. Our application makes clear that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did not have the power to invalidate the constitutional, democratically passed congressional map or the power to draw their own.  Failure to take this case by the U.S. Supreme Court will allow chaos to ensue throughout the United States in the coming years where politically connected litigants can go running into state Supreme Courts to invalidate congressional maps. These litigants will do so to stop legislative agendas with which they do not agree.

 

Mike Turzai

Speaker of the House

28th Legislative District

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One Comment

  1. Simon Jessey says:

    It doesn’t matter who did or didn’t vote for the 2011 PA congressional district map. What matters is that the state had been split apart into districts that were rarely compact and contiguous, and had the effect of lumping voters into districts that reflected party affiliation, rather than community. Not only did it result in a grossly inflated share of Republicans representing Pennsylvanians in Congress, but it only served to further polarize communities. The map provided by the Court seems to address all those failings.

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