Jan. 22 (UPI) — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday ordered state politicians to redraw a congressional map because it “plainly and palpably” violates the state Constitution.
The Democratic-dominant high court ruled 4-3 that a new map must be in place before the 2018 midterm elections.
In a three-page ruling, the justices directed the Republican-controlled General Assembly to redraw the map and submit it to Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, by Feb. 9 and the court by Feb. 15. The state House includes Pennsylvania 13 Republicans and five Democrats.
If those deadlines are missed, the court will draw its own map “based on the evidentiary record developed.”
The congressional districts were redrawn in 2011 and since the 2012 election, Republicans have won 13 of the state’s 18 congressional seats.
The primaries are May 18. The March 13 special election for Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district is unaffected by the order.
In a statement, Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman said the court “has overstepped its legal authority and set up an impossible deadline that will only introduce chaos in the upcoming congressional election.”
They said the ruling was a “partisan action showing a distinct lack of respect for the Constitution and the legislative process.”
Wolf, who became governor three years ago, supported the decision in a statement Monday: “I strongly believe that gerrymandering is wrong and consistently have stated that the current maps are unfair to Pennsylvanians. My administration is reviewing the order and we are assessing the executive branch’s next steps in this process.”
Last week, the U.S. high court halted a lower federal court ruling that ordered the North Carolina legislature to redraw its congressional map because it found it unconstitutional.