Pennsylvania will have a new congressional map for this year's elections, after the US Supreme Court declined a request to halt the maps — issued by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court earlier this year — from going into effect.
The Monday afternoon order from the US Supreme Court, with no opinion and no noted dissents, followed a more extensive ruling earlier Monday from a three-judge district court panel reaching a similar conclusion. The pair of rulings appeared — absent an unexpected development — to end Republicans' hopes of stopping the maps from taking effect for the 2018 midterms.
Under the map that was tossed out earlier this year by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, only five of the state's 18 congressional districts are represented by Democrats — despite the fact that registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in the swing state. The new map is expected to bring that number closer to the parity that would be expected in the state.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued the new map itself in mid-February after the Republican-led state legislature and Democratic governor could not agree on a new congressional map. The redrawing process followed an order from the state's high court that the state's earlier map was a partisan gerrymander that violated the state's constitution.
Because the ruling was based on the state's constitution and not the US Constitution, the options for opponents to challenge it were limited. Pennsylvania Republicans tried to get federal courts to halt the new map from going into effect by claiming that the state supreme court's ruling violated the US Constitution's "elections clause," which states that "[t]he Times, Places and Manner of
holding Elections for Senators and Representatives" are to be set "in each State by the Legislature thereof."
With Monday's rulings, however, it appeared that the effort was unsuccessful and that the new map would control the 2018 elections — furthering Democratic hopes of retaking the House this fall.