U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Pennsylvania Republicans on Voting Map

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Pennsylvania Republicans’ challenge to a court-drawn voting map that may help Democrats pick up several U.S. House seats in the Nov. 6 congressional election.

The justices, without comment Monday, let stand a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision invalidating a Republican-drawn map that gave the GOP 13 of the state’s 18 congressional seats in three straight general elections. The court drew its own revised map after the Republican-controlled legislature and Democratic governor couldn’t agree on new lines.

Under the revised map, Democrats are likely to win at least nine seats and could win several more than that. The seats could be pivotal as Democrats try to take control of the U.S. House.

The rebuff seals a rare victory for opponents of partisan gerrymandering. The case was unusual because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court relied on the state constitution to strike down the map. That largely put the case beyond the purview of the U.S. Supreme Court, which lacks authority to second-guess state courts on the meaning of their own constitutions.

The Supreme Court heard arguments last year on a Wisconsin case that critics of gerrymandering hoped would lead to nationwide limits on the practice, but the court sidestepped the central issues in the case.

With new Justice Brett Kavanaugh in place, the court’s conservative majority now could be poised to insulate voting maps from legal attacks based on the U.S. Constitution. The justices will say in the next few months whether they will revisit the issue in a case involving North Carolina’s congressional districts.

The Pennsylvania case is Turzai v. Brandt, 17-1700.

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