Pa. Judge Recommends Congressional Map Favored by GOP Lawmakers

A state appeals court judge ruled in favor of Republican lawmakers' map for Pennsylvania's 17 congressional districts. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf had vetoed the map last month. The state Supreme Court will have the final say later this month.

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Pennsylvania's state Supreme Court will now consider a new map of congressional districts recommended Monday by a lower court judge who picked a proposal favored by top Republican lawmakers but opposed by Democrats.

The map recommended by Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough, a Republican, came from a pool of more than a dozen submitted to the court.

The map — which passed the Republican-controlled Legislature without support from a single Democratic lawmaker — sides with Republicans on the most prominent areas of disagreement.

The question of redrawing the state's congressional districts has gone to the courts after Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, and the Republican-controlled Legislature deadlocked.

McCullough held three days of hearings on proposals and had a choice of maps submitted by Republican lawmakers, Wolf, Democratic lawmakers, partisans on both sides and good-government groups.

It is strictly a recommendation on which the state Supreme Court — with a 5-2 Democratic majority — will make the ultimate decision. In 1992, when a similar process played out, the high court went along with the lower court judge's recommendation.

Pennsylvania, like most other states, must redraw its congressional district boundaries to account for a decade of demographic shifts. The new districts must take effect in this year’s election, to last until 2032's election.

Complicating the process is Pennsylvania’s loss of a seat, from 18 to 17, as the Census showed the nation growing more quickly in population over the past decade than Pennsylvania.

The primary election is May 17.


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