Tip your hat to Northeast Philadelphia’s very own Ronald D. Castille, chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, who made state history last week by casting the tie-breaking fourth vote to strike down the Legislative Reapportionment Commission’s ultrapolitical plan to recast boundary lines of the state’s 203 House seats and 50 Senate seats.
The official slap-down marked the first time since the Pennsylvania Constitution was amended in 1968 that the state’s highest court rejected the reapportionment panel’s plan.
The commission blew it. Its five members are not dummies. They are the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate and a retired president judge of the state Superior Court.
All five men were aware that redistricting comes from the U.S. census. The commission had ample time to come up with new boundaries that would preserve the “one man, one vote” rule while limiting the placement of districts in multiple municipalities. The commission didn’t do that. Instead it devised districts designed to give great electoral advantages to Pennsylvania’s ruling party, the Republicans. It’s gerrymandering, and it’s wrong.
The commission waited to reveal the new lines until just before the opening day for legislative candidates to begin circulating nomination petitions. The motive was clear: Stick it to the Democrats.
Pennsylvania must take politics out of redistricting by using an independent, NON-partisan panel to create new districts. If state lawmakers care about the people they’re supposed to represent, they would take themselves out of the equation.
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