February 3rd, 2022
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has taken up the redistricting case. Here's what we hope they do:
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (SCOPA) announced that it was exercising its "King's Bench" authority and would take on the role of final arbiter of Pennsylvania's next congressional map. This was not a surprise once the General Assembly was unable to pass a map that Governor Wolf would agree to sign. It is unfortunate that the legislative and executive branches could not come to an agreement.
Nonetheless, SCOPA now has an opportunity to calm the partisan bickering that has emanated from Harrisburg. Of the dozen-plus maps that were submitted to the Commonwealth Court, Draw the Lines strongly feels that one map, the Pennsylvania Citizens' Map, is the 'goldilocks' solution. It meets constitutional principles with compact districts that minimize splits. Further, it limits partisan bias and protects districts with clear regional identities, two values thatnare important to a vast majority of Pennsylvanians. Lastly, it was drawn not by politicians but in a collaborate process involving input from thousands of Pennsylvanians. So much of the redistricting conversation over the last few years has been about process. Accordingly, this characteristic of the Citizens' Map might be its most valuable.
While they didn't go through the same rigorous public process that the Citizens' Map did, there are three other maps in front of the Commonwealth Court that Judge McCullough, the newly deemed special master for SCOPA, should consider, and which the high court should consider as well.
- Ali intervenors - Advocates representing Fair Districts PA and Common Cause PA worked with regular Pennsylvania voters on their map. It scores similar to the Citizens' Map on the constitutional metrics, and it's even better on eliminating partisan bias.
- The Gressman computer scientists map - Drawn by PA academics who use computer modeling to inform decisions that were ultimately made by humans. Like the Ali map, it is competitive with our map on the constitutional map, and it is about as politically neutral of a map as you can draw.
The court has the opportunity to choose one of these maps instead of a politician-drawn map. This could minimize any rhetorical pushback that their chosen map is simply doing the bidding of one political party. Voting districts belong to the voters, not the legislators who seek jobs to represent us.