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| | |-+  PA Supreme Court strikes down PA legislative map.
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Author Topic: PA Supreme Court strikes down PA legislative map.  (Read 1912 times)
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« Reply #25 on: February 03, 2012, 04:26:32 pm »
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Massachusetts has its primaries for Congress and state offices in September even though Presidential primaries and town elections are in the spring. I've never understood why exactly.
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« Reply #26 on: February 03, 2012, 05:35:08 pm »

Massachusetts has its primaries for Congress and state offices in September even though Presidential primaries and town elections are in the spring. I've never understood why exactly.

I think it's actually quite sensible. There is no good reason to have more than 3 months between party nomination and general election. Town elections usually don't require primaries, and in states where they do they are typically a couple of months before the general election. Presidential delegate selection is not the nomination, but is the prerequisite to the nomination.
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« Reply #27 on: February 05, 2012, 12:11:32 pm »
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The Court has released its opinion and has outlined how certain districts (mine, for example) should have been drawn.

In what would be an absolute stunner, there is word that the primary could be moved to September.
It seems that there was a lot of gratuitous complaints about the speed which the LRC acted.   Maybe they were pissed about almost missing their trip to Puerto Rico.  You should be grateful that the Supreme Court appointed the 5th member so quickly, and that the Census Bureau delivered the census results 3 weeks before the statutory deadline.

Some notable points.  

They said that a map drawn by a commission, even one in which 4 members are legislative leaders, does not have the same presumption of constitutionality as a legislative enactment.

They said that the commission does not have to prove the constitutionality of their plan, but rather that the burden is on challengers to demonstrate unconstitutionality.   In particular, it was not sufficient to show that the 2011 plan was better than the 2001 plan as far a splitting political subdivisions.  Previous challenges had focused on individual areas, while this year an overall challenge was mounted.  Basically, they said that previous decisions by the court can not be considered as setting precedents (other than perhaps procedure).

They seemed to suggest that population equality had been given too much emphasis in the past.  If you allow for a wider deviation (such as +/- 5%) you will find that you can get better conformance to political boundaries.

They seemed to crawfish on the subject on whether the old boundaries will be used in 2012, saying that they simply were trying to avoid confusing the petition gathering.

A federal court will enjoin the use of the 2001 boundaries.  The Commonwealth won't defend its use.  The federal court will determine that the boundaries drawn by the redistricting commission are the only ones available that provide sufficient equality, and order them to be used until another map can be drawn.
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« Reply #28 on: February 05, 2012, 12:16:16 pm »
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I guess the primary will have to be used then. I imagine too many candidates would claim to be disenfranchised because they weren't able to circulate in the new districts (though some are circulating in both the new and the 2001 districts). This is such a disaster.
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« Reply #29 on: February 05, 2012, 01:22:22 pm »
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They seemed to suggest that population equality had been given too much emphasis in the past.  If you allow for a wider deviation (such as +/- 5%) you will find that you can get better conformance to political boundaries.

The PA supremes decided on their own just how you balance the state law on minimizing the division of political jurisdictions against the Baker v Carr equal population Constitutional mandate, and came up with a 0.5% deviation standard, or came up with no standard, and just did what felt right, or what?  Yes, it seems the federal courts will throw this one out in a hurry. They may even uphold the map that was drawn by the Commission, if it otherwise minimized divisions subject to getting equal - or more equal - populations.
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« Reply #30 on: February 05, 2012, 01:38:24 pm »
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I guess the primary will have to be used then. I imagine too many candidates would claim to be disenfranchised because they weren't able to circulate in the new districts (though some are circulating in both the new and the 2001 districts). This is such a disaster.

Redistricting stuff - Senator Majority Leader's site

Orie Melvin dissent

She argues that the LRC plan was compliant with the court's previous precedents, acknowledges that it is untenable to use the 2001 boundaries, and chides the majority opinion for whining that they didn't get to use their Jimmy Buffet shirts because they were stuck in Harrisburg dealing with redistricting.

Saylor dissent

He argues that in the 2001 decision (in which he participated) that he had looked at the number of subdivision splits on a global basis.  The majority opinion claims that 2001 didn't really set any precedents, because the challenges were narrowly focused on localized areas, and so the court hadn't really considered the state as a whole.  Saylor is saying that is untrue.

He also says that any new standards should have been prospective.

Eakin dissent

He notes that "it is never 'absolutely necessary' to draw a line in any spot – it could always go elsewhere".

This is the fundamental flaw in Pennsylvania's redistricting standard.  It tries to impose a local rule (don't split counties, towns, boroughs) which is impossible to follow to achieve a global result.
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« Reply #31 on: February 05, 2012, 02:32:19 pm »
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They seemed to suggest that population equality had been given too much emphasis in the past.  If you allow for a wider deviation (such as +/- 5%) you will find that you can get better conformance to political boundaries.

The PA supremes decided on their own just how you balance the state law on minimizing the division of political jurisdictions against the Baker v Carr equal population Constitutional mandate, and came up with a 0.5% deviation standard, or came up with no standard, and just did what felt right, or what?  Yes, it seems the federal courts will throw this one out in a hurry. They may even uphold the map that was drawn by the Commission, if it otherwise minimized divisions subject to getting equal - or more equal - populations.
Review of redistricting plans by the commission by the Supreme Court are mandatory.   And it appears in the previous reviews, the Supreme Court gave more emphasis to population balance than splitting of political jurisdictions (or at least they claim).  It appears that they have always had less deviation than 5%, which is not at all helpful if you are trying to avoid splitting jurisdictions.  Pennsylvania has a large house (203 delegates) so districts are around 60,000 persons.  5% is only 3,000.  So you then start having to chop things up, and you start getting careless about the number of chops. 

Pennsylvania appears to count the number of entities split, and the number of split pieces.  So if Philadelphia has the population for 23 districts, it gets counted as being split, and also as being split into 23+ pieces, when a better measurement would be to not count it as being split, and only focusing on whether it was really necessary to be split into 27 pieces.  Based on their scoring system, they end up with 100s of splits, and the issue is whether you could get by with 800 splits, and were another 213 necessary.

The 2011 plan divides fewer political subdivisions than the 2001 plan, and of course has better population equality.  The Supreme Court has at least implied that they don't think the LRC can come up with a compliant plan in time for the 2012 election.  So a federal court could well reason that noone could create a plan that complies with the Pennsylvania constitution - because not only does it contain standards regarding the contents of the plan, it includes procedural standards.   A federal court is ill-suited to determine if some alternative complies with Pennsylvania constitution.  Even if the court drew a map with fewer splits, it can't draw a map that the commission would draw.   But is can see that there is a plan drawn by the LRC that complies with equal protection and the VRA.

The Supreme Court is essentially saying that there can be no precedents.  Just because X splits were used previously, doesn't mean that X or even less splits can be used this time, because the data is different.  They are also claiming that they hadn't really considered the overall plan previously, because the challenges were based on district boundaries in localized areas.  This time, a challenger drew a map with fewer splits.

One of the federal court complaints is also that the 2001 plan dilutes Hispanic voting power (the 2011 plan creates 4 Hispanic districts, 2 in Philadelphia, 1 in Reading, and 1 in Lehigh County).
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« Reply #32 on: February 05, 2012, 02:51:38 pm »
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Seems to me that if you take the "minimizing splits" provision seriously, you get the Michigan standard.  That is, you can't have two districts splitting the same county/municipal boundary, and you can't have a loop of districts each splitting a boundary with the next. 

Should be easy enough for the commission to do.  The incumbent protection racket that they had going on will have to fall by the wayside, but I suspect this hurts the Dems in western PA more than the GOP in the Philly suburbs. 
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muon2
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« Reply #33 on: February 05, 2012, 03:47:06 pm »

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They seemed to suggest that population equality had been given too much emphasis in the past.  If you allow for a wider deviation (such as +/- 5%) you will find that you can get better conformance to political boundaries.

The PA supremes decided on their own just how you balance the state law on minimizing the division of political jurisdictions against the Baker v Carr equal population Constitutional mandate, and came up with a 0.5% deviation standard, or came up with no standard, and just did what felt right, or what?  Yes, it seems the federal courts will throw this one out in a hurry. They may even uphold the map that was drawn by the Commission, if it otherwise minimized divisions subject to getting equal - or more equal - populations.

Other states' courts have interpreted constitutional language for substantially equal in population to mean something more restrictive than SCOTUS. In IL the court determined that it means a maximum deviation of 0.5%, but it hasn't come into play since the party with the pen draws exactly equal districts to avoid a legal challenge on that point.
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« Reply #34 on: February 05, 2012, 06:32:45 pm »
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Oh, they were interpreting state constitutional language. I hate state constitutions. But I digress.
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jimrtex
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« Reply #35 on: February 09, 2012, 01:19:27 am »
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A federal district court refused to enjoin the use of the malapportioned 2001 districts.

I think he gave too much deference to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  The Pennsylvania court did not consider whether the 2001 map was constitutional, other than in a mechanical sense.  Back in 2001, their decision said the map would be used until a new map was created.

A map is not lawful simply because a court 11 years ago said that it should be used for the indefinite future.
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Keystone Phil
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« Reply #36 on: February 10, 2012, 10:09:48 am »
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Yep, more craziness here...
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« Reply #37 on: February 10, 2012, 08:50:56 pm »
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Phil, haven't been on here much, but what is your take on the "old" maps?  I mean because of the Court ruling... you now have a friend able to run for State Rep.
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« Reply #38 on: February 10, 2012, 09:31:23 pm »
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Phil, haven't been on here much, but what is your take on the "old" maps?  I mean because of the Court ruling... you now have a friend able to run for State Rep.

Check my comments in the first half of the thread. And feel free to contact me personally. Wink
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« Reply #39 on: February 15, 2012, 02:03:16 pm »
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Just got word that we will definitely be using the 2001 maps for the 2012 election.
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