"Clearly, Plainly and Palpably" Unconstitutional
On Monday, January 22, Pennsylvania's Supreme Court ruled that the state's voting map was unconstitutional. The court assertained the the districts had become gerrymandered to favor one particular political party, in turn essentially disenfranchising the other.
The decision was made in a 5 to 2 ruling, and will affect changes in all 18 of Pennsylvania's congressional districts.
Will this end Erie's congressional division?
Under current legistlative mapping, Erie County is divided into two different districts. The 3rd District is overseen by Butler County's Mike Kelly, now in his fourth term. The 5th District is governed by Bellefonte's Glenn Thompson, who is serving his sixth consecutive term in office. Despite Erie county's nearly even split between Democrats and Republicans, both of its congressmen are Republican.
The 3rd district includes the City of Erie, as well as cities far to the south such as Sharon, Hermitage, and Butler. As of this time, two Democrats from the south of the district have announced bids against Kelly for the 2018 midterm elections, Chris Rieger of Butler County, and Brian Skibo of Hermitage.
The 5th District is both Pennsylvania's largest and least populated. Its sprawling reach extends all the way to the middle of the state, nearly reaching Harrisburg. State College is included in this district, as well as Bradford, Oil City, St. Marys, and DuBois. Republican Glenn Thompson has served the district since 2009 and hails from Bellefonte, PA, located in the easternmost portion of the district, approximately 175 miles away from the City of Erie.
The PA Supreme Court has ordered that state legistlature (predominantly made up of Republicans redraw a new map by Feb. 9. Governor Tom Wolf will have veto power over the new map, and if that occurs, there is a possibility that the court may redraw the map itself.
There have been concerns over this type of gerrymandering for years, with Democrats calling for fairer redistricting.
Reactions on Twitter: