Editorial: Hail to the chief

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.

Send let­ters to: pronews@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at staff@bsmphilly.com.

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