The Pennsylvania Judicial Center in Harrisburg (Capital-Star file)
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is taking over the state’s congressional redistricting.
In a 5-2 decision, the court ordered Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough to write up and submit her findings from last week’s arguments over the shape of the commonwealth’s new congressional map to the high court no later than next Monday, Feb. 7.
McCullough had already told the higher court in a filing that she was ready to make a decision in the case by Friday.
The parties to the suit, including Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, Republican and Democratic legislators, and a number of citizens groups that lean to both parties, will then be allowed to submit exceptions to the chosen map by Feb. 14. The court will then hear arguments on the map on Feb. 18.
You can see all the maps submitted to the court here.
The mapping process is only in court after Wolf and the Republican-controlled General Assembly could not agree on a map. Wolf vetoed their proposal last month.
The order also asks McCullough to submit an adjusted timeline for the state’s primary calendar to allow for the new maps to be in place for this November’s midterm elections.
According to state election law, candidates were supposed to start collecting signatures to get on the ballot on Feb. 15.
The case has no bearing on Pennsylvania’s state legislative maps, which also have not been finalized. The Legislative Reapportionment Commission, which draws the state’s 253 state House and Senate districts, is scheduled to meet on Friday afternoon.
The five-member panel includes four legislative leaders from the state House and Senate, and a fifth chair, former University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, who was appointed by the state Supreme Court.
Once the final maps are approved, the state constitution provides for a 30-day window to challenge those maps. It would run almost entirely through the period for state legislative candidates to file petitions.
A lawsuit asking for state judges to also adjust that timeline for the legislative candidates has already been filed.
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