The Lead

State Supreme Court arguments in Pa.’s congressional redistricting case begin today. Here’s what to know

By: - February 18, 2022 7:08 am

Arguments in the case to determine congressional lines begin Friday, with Pennsylvania’s Democratic-majority Supreme Court ultimately having the final say on which map gets chosen.

The state’s highest court stepped in to direct the redistricting process, which happens every 10 years, after a deadlock between Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who vetoed a map the Republican-controlled Legislature sent to his desk.

So now, it’s up to the state’s highest court to ultimately determine Pennsylvania’s congressional lines.

The already politically-charged redistricting process has been particularly contentious this year. And because of the shrinking population, Pennsylvania will lose one of its 18 congressional seats this cycle.

This marks the second time the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has weighed in on new congressional lines. The high court initially declined, giving the Commonwealth Court a chance to review the case and issue a ruling.

In 2018, the Supreme Court tossed out the congressional map and redrew the lines after challengers said it benefitted the GOP. This prompted calls from Republicans for some of the justices to resign from the bench.

After taking up the redistricting case, the state’s highest court temporarily suspended the petition circulating period for candidates to get on the May 2022 primary election ballot until a final map is selected — leaving much unknown for those seeking a spot on the ballot and voters.

Conservative Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough is advising the Supreme Court in the redistricting case. Earlier this month, she recommended that the high court pick the map proposed by the Republican-controlled Legislature — one of 13 proposals submitted to the court for consideration.

A full day of arguments is expected, with a live stream of the proceedings beginning at 9:30 a.m. on YouTube. The Capitol rotunda will host a simulcast of the proceedings that’s open to the public.

These arguments are separate from the ongoing debate over the state’s Legislative maps, which were approved earlier this month. However, court challenges to those maps, including from House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre and Latino community advocates, are pending.

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