The Supreme Court Is Now Republicans’ Only Hope of Restoring Pennsylvania’s Gerrymander

A federal court struck down their challenge on Monday.

Jeff Malet/Newscom via ZUMA Press

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A federal court threw out a Republican challenge to Pennsylvania’s new electoral map on Monday, dealing a blow to GOP efforts to get rid of congressional districts that are friendlier to Democrats. Now all eyes are on the US Supreme Court, the only court that could halt Pennsylvania from holding its 2018 midterm elections under the new map.

In February, the state supreme court put in place a new map after finding that the old map, one of the most extreme gerrymanders in the country, violated the state constitution by favoring Republicans. The federal case, brought by Republican members of Congress from Pennsylvania and two Republican state senators, was a longshot from the start because federal courts have limited authority to weigh in on state court decisions involving state law. This is ultimately what the three-judge panel, all Republican appointees, concluded Monday. “Because fundamental principles of constitutional standing and judicial restraint prohibit us from exercising jurisdiction, we have no authority to take any action other than to dismiss the Plaintiffs’ verified complaint,” the judges wrote.

Republicans trying to get the new map thrown out have one final recourse in the US Supreme Court. The Republican leaders of the state legislature appealed the state case to the Supreme Court last month in a last-ditch effort to preserve the old map. This appeal is also a longshot. It’s the second time state Republicans have tried to get the Supreme Court to intervene. The first time, they were turned away by conservative Justice Samuel Alito.

But the Supreme Court has sat on this appeal for nearly a month now—far longer than expected—causing some experts to speculate that it might consider taking it up. Tuesday is the deadline in the state for filing nominating petitions for candidates in Pennsylvania’s May primaries. That should make it less likely that the justices will force the state to revert back to the old map and scramble candidates’ plans. 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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