With elections looming, the Democrats are pulling out all the stops to ensure a victory. This includes messing with the district maps.
In fact, a dozen GOP Pennsylvania lawmakers are now pushing back by introducing legislation to impeach four Democratic Supreme Court Justices for ruling the state’s congressional district maps were unconstitutionally gerrymandered.
In January, Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined that the current congressional districts in the state were unfair to the Democratic party. Then the GOP-led state Senate and House was tasked with redrawing the districts.
Then in February, two Pennsylvania Republicans submitted a new map prior to the deadline that was given last month after the ruling.
Now Republicans are making a push to impeach the justices for the ruling.
“The Republicans moved to impeach Justices David Wecht, Christine Donahue, Kevin Dougherty and Debra McCloskey Todd, all Democrats who found the state’s congressional map was designed to favor Republicans and must be replaced before the May primary. Justice Max Baer (D), who also voted to strike down the map, but said it could remain in place until 2020, wasn’t mentioned in the impeachment resolutions,” writes The Huffington Post. “The legislation comes a little more than a month after state Rep. Cris Dush (R) urged impeachment of the Democratic justices. The state Supreme Court ruled in January 5-2, along party lines, that congressional districts drawn in 2011 were so lopsided to benefit Republicans that they violated the guarantee of free and equal elections. The court gave lawmakers three weeks to draw a new map with Gov. Tom Wolf (D), but imposed its own plan once they failed to reach an agreement. Two Republican appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court and a federal lawsuit have been unsuccessful in blocking the new map.”
Gerrymandering is when political boundaries are drawn purposely to give a party a numeric and political advantage over an opposing party. There is no law against gerrymandering and is a common technique often used by both the GOP and Democrats.
Dush said in a memo that the ruling forcing the Pennsylvania congressional district maps to be redrawn was an overstep of judicial authority.
“The five Justices who signed this order that blatantly and clearly contradicts the plain language of the Pennsylvania Constitution engaged in misbehavior in office,” said Dush in the memo to fellow House members.
The resolution legislation was drafted back in January when the Supreme court made the ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court also denied the GOP lawmakers’ request to challenge the decision.
Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom Wolf disagreed and called the new map “fair.”
“I applaud these decisions that will allow the upcoming election to move forward with the new and fair congressional maps,” said Wolf in a statement. “The people of Pennsylvania are tired of gerrymandering and the new map corrects past mistakes that created unfair congressional districts and attempted to diminish the impact of citizens’ votes.”
The new map will likely help the Democrats pick up two more seats.
“This is basically 7th-grade civics class all over again, the separation of powers and the authority of the legislature,” said Dush to The Hill. “The courts basically are there to interpret when there’s conflict in the law, and they don’t have any sovereignty.”
“But Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature, and therefore the impeachment process. Dush said Republican leaders in the state legislature were especially keen to target Wecht, who won election to his ten-year term in 2015 while promising to examine the legality of district maps,” writes The Hill.
President Donald Trump said that Penn. GOP lawmakers should challenge the new map “all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary.”
“Your Original was correct!” tweeted Trump. “Don’t let the Dems take elections away from you so that they can raise taxes & waste money!”
Not all Republican lawmakers seem up to the challenge though.
“Nonetheless, we respect the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court and are prepared to move on to other issues of importance to the people of Pennsylvania,” said Mike Turza, Penn. House Speaker.
Not to mention, the last time a judge was impeached in Pennsylvania was back in 1994, after a justice was found guilty of a felony.
Even if the lawmakers are unsuccessful, this move will likely inspire more states to focus on gerrymandering and make Democrats think twice before trying to pull the same stunt.