February 23rd, 2022
The Pennsylvania State Supreme Court today announced via a 4-3 decision to select the “Carter map” as the map for Pennsylvania’s congressional districts for the next decade.
“While we are disappointed that the Supreme Court did not select the Citizens’ Map, we are encouraged that the map they selected is an improvement on the map picked by the Commonwealth Court,” said David Thornburgh, chair of Draw the Lines PA, a project of the Committee of Seventy. “By the metrics, it is a fair map that meets the constitutional standards, and it will provide for more fair representation than the map selected by the Commonwealth Court.”
Of the maps presented to the Court, the Carter map is among the most effective maps in limiting partisan bias, which was a value that mattered to a significant majority of Pennsylvanians. It draws compact districts that limit county, municipal, and ward splits (though others exceeded those benchmarks more effectively, including DTL’s Citizens’ Map). The Court clearly appreciated the Carter “least-change” approach, where the map attempted to keep Pennsylvanians in the same district as the previous map as much as possible.
In short, it’s a good map. However, as with House Bill 2146 recommended by the Commonwealth Court, this is not a map drawn with extensive citizen engagement, so it did not meet the example set by Draw the Lines for public engagement. Hopefully, this congressional redistricting process gives Pennsylvanians renewed energy to create a standard in future years that keeps it out of the courts and in the hands of voters.
The Carter map and the Commonwealth’s entire redistricting endeavor over the last year are an improvement over the 2011 map and process. However, Pennsylvania only cleared that very low bar because of sustained activism from groups like the Committee of Seventy (the nonpartisan organization that sponsors Draw the Lines) and Fair Districts PA.
We could not be more thankful or proud of the work done by all of the citizen mapmakers, advocates, and leaders who participated in this redistricting process through the work of Draw the Lines PA. More than 7,200 Pennsylvanians ultimately contributed to the Citizens’ Map, which we submitted for consideration to the Court. We held dozens of public events, webinars, and conversations to make sure that Pennsylvanians had the opportunity to weigh in on both the congressional map and the broader process. From this engagement and experience, we believe that there should be improvements codified into law that require sincere public engagement by lawmakers.