PA Supreme Court Created A Constitutional Crisis With Redistricting Ruling

An Op-Ed By Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34)

We stand on the precipice of a crisis of the U.S. Constitution in Pennsylvania. Instead a bipartisan solution to the Congressional redistricting saga, we have chaos as described by PA Supreme Court Justice Max Baer.

In his concurring and dissenting opinion, Justice Baer, the Senior Democrat on the Supreme Court, asked the Court to reconsider its decision on the compressed timeline for the creation of new Congressional district maps “given the substantial uncertainty, if not outright chaos, currently unfolding…”

With that in mind, I advocated to the Governor that we, together, would petition the PA Supreme Court for an extension of its order. In doing so, we would acknowledge the PA Supreme Court decision that the Congressional maps of 2011 were unconstitutional. The ruling by the court would stand. We would begin a bipartisan process to redraw the Congressional districts in a transparent and orderly fashion and have new maps in place for the 2020 election.

I implored the Governor to join with the Legislature and Justice Baer who also said that “a good redistricting plan takes time and thoughtful consideration by legislators who know the communities impacted by the plan.”

Working together under the direction received from the court last week and with an extension, we would have undertaken a transparent process that would include holding State Government Committee hearings around the state and seeking input from the people of Pennsylvania. We would have used the input gathered through the committee process to pass a bill in the legislature and be signed by the Governor in time for the 2020 election.

Even Professor Nathaniel Persily, the expert retained by the Court, has said “[a] quick plan, however, is not necessarily a good plan. Indeed, a computer can draw a statewide equipopulous plan by itself in a matter of hours or even minutes, but it is unlikely to be one a court (or anyone) would want to adopt.”

We are not defending the current map. What we would like is a bipartisan opportunity to exchange a quick plan for a good plan.

Instead, we are in the midst of a Constitutional crisis. We have the judiciary usurping the powers of the legislative and executive branches. We have Governor Wolf acquiescing to the judiciary as it seizes the powers of the executive branch. A mere minutes before the deadline, he submitted his own map that analysis shows does not meet the criteria set forth by the courts. Through all of this, Governor Wolf is showing that his loyalties are to making U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi the Speaker of the U.S. House rather than protecting the Constitution of Pennsylvania and the United States.

It’s worth noting that these current proceedings have nothing to do with permanently changing the process of how Congressional districts are drawn in Pennsylvania. The community outcry for a change to that process has been convoluted with the court proceedings.

The Senate remains steadfast to our long-standing commitment to thoroughly examine the process by which Congressional districts are drawn in Pennsylvania. Once clear of this crisis, we will resume the process initiated by our State Government Committee.

The process was designed to review the various proposals in a transparent manner that allows for residents to play an active role. The continued inaction by the Governor also has assured that the process of examining and possibly changing how the Congressional districts in Pennsylvania are drawn moving forward continues to be delayed.

For verification, please contact Jennifer Kocher, press secretary to Senator Corman:   (717) 787-1377