Pennsylvania Redistricting - Impeach PA Supreme Court Justices for Violating the PA Constitution?

by - February 23, 2018

Late last month, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a ruling that congressional redistricting maps drawn after the 2010 census and in use for the last 3 election cycles (2012, 2014, and 2016) violated the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Source: Pennsylvania Redistricting - Impeach PA Supreme Court Justices for Violating the PA Constitution?

Pennsylvania Supreme Court draws ‘much more competitive’ district map to overturn Republican gerrymander

by - February 20, 2018

According to PlanScore’s basic model, the remedial plan adopted today by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is impressively symmetric—both in absolute terms and compared to its predecessor. Its likely efficiency gap is -2% (versus its predecessor’s -10%), its likely partisan bias is -4% (versus -12%), and its likely mean-median difference is -3% (versus -4%). In my view, this is the single most important fact about the remedial plan. It’s not just comprised of aesthetically appealing districts (though its districts are, in fact, much prettier than their antecedents). Rather, it promises actually to cure the underlying constitutional violation—to eliminate the majority of the previous plan’s pro-Republican skew.
Source: Election Law Blog 

But the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did not, in my view, act forthrightly in its opinion dictating criteria and its ultimate map. The criteria it enunciated--its three values of compactness, contiguity, and avoidance of dividing jurisdictions--were never really going to cure the problem it had identified.It's something like (ed: a metaphor sure to have its limitations!) a doctor diagnosing a patient with a mysterious disease and asking for ideas about how to treat the symptoms of the virus--a runny nose, a cough, a sore throat. When the ideas come in for a decongestant and lozenges, the doctor rejects them, saying, "I have my own decongestant and lozenges"--but one that also comes with blood transfusions. The blood transfusions might be useful, but it was hardly a part of the original proposal.The Pennsylvania Supreme Court apparently did not want to include language like "seats-votes ratio" or "partisan fariness" into its construction of the commonwealth's constitution. Perhaps it's understandable--doing so would be quite controversial and perhaps even politically unpopular by all parties. It would have to articulate standards about how to achieve those results. It would need to spend more time explaining how it could go about achieving those ends, much less political actors in the state.So, it didn't include that language. But there is no doubt, from every commentator looking at the outcomes, that that is precisely what it did when drawing the new map. It consciously engaged in a partisan fairness inquiry of mapmaking, when that was not articulated expressly as one of the three criteria it asked the legislature to use in its new map, and when that was not expressly one of the criteria that it found required by the commonwealth's constitution.
Source: Subversive gerrymandering reform in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania's Supreme Court has redrawn the map of the state's congressional districts, overturning a Republican gerrymander that's been used in the past three congressional elections.
The new map more closely reflects the partisan composition of the state, all but ensuring that Democrats will pick up several new U.S. House seats.
Source: Pennsylvania Supreme Court draws ‘much more competitive’ district map to overturn Republican gerrymander

Utah Bill, Giving Parties Right to Confine Primary Ballot Only to Candidates with Support at a Party Meeting, Loses

by - February 19, 2018

On February 8, the Utah House defeated HB 68 by 34-37. It would have given parties the right to exclude anyone from running in their primaries who did not show substantial support at a party meeting.
Source: Utah Bill, Giving Parties Right to Confine Primary Ballot Only to Candidates with Support at a Party Meeting, Loses

The Campaign Finance Loophole That Could Make the Next Russian Attack Perfectly Legal

by - February 19, 2018

The Mueller indictment of 13 Russian nationals for interfering with the 2016 U.S.presidential election offers a remarkably detailed account of a complex plot to sow discord and influence the presidential contest in favor of Donald Trump.
Source: The Campaign Finance Loophole That Could Make the Next Russian Attack Perfectly Legal