July 25, 2018—The U.S. Constitution states that state legislatures determine the time, place, and manner of elections—which includes redistricting. But the the Pennsylvania Supreme Court substituted itself for the legislature when it drew Pennsylvania’s congressional districts. Two of the court’s seven members expressly campaigned for office on a platform that attacked the current congressional map. They refused to recuse themselves, which is what they should have done as judges. The court also abandoned its court procedures—it promptly seized control over the lawsuit, did not hear evidence, refused to conduct a hearing, and did not even explain how it decided on its map. The map even violated the court’s own legal standards. It was an extreme partisan map, it used many “tentacles” to gerrymander congressional districts, and it was widely viewed as a partisan gerrymander. In short, the Pennsylvania went far beyond its authority by imposing a proportional representation scheme.
If allowed to stand, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s actions will render meaningless the term “legislature” in the U.S. Constitution.