If you think there’s been high dudgeon over gerrymandering in North Carolina, check out what’s happening in the Keystone State.
Last month, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the state’s congressional districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to give Republicans an advantage. (There are currently twelve Republicans and five Democrats in a big state President Trump won by just 44,292 votes.) The Republican legislature appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which on Monday declined to intervene. Now those Republicans are threatening to impeach the five Democratic justices (out of seven total) who ruled against them.
A Pennsylvania Republican is calling for the impeachment of five Democrats on the state Supreme Court who ordered lawmakers to draw a new congressional map because the current one so severely benefits the GOP that it violates the Pennsylvania constitution.
The Supreme Court gave lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf (D) until Feb. 15 to agree on a map and has appointed a special master to draw one up if the two parties can’t reach an agreement. In a memo to all members of the Pennsylvania House, Rep. Cris Dush (R) accused the five Democrats on the court of engaging in misbehavior for ordering the new maps and subverting the process, outlined in the constitution, by which a bill can become a law. Dush asked his fellow lawmakers to sponsor legislation to impeach the five Democratic justices and bar them from holding any office in Pennsylvania.
There’s a comment to be made here about the continuing deterioration of political norms—which, in the Trump era, seems to be all the rage on the Republican side—but we’ll leave that for another time. What matters for our purposes is that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has tapped Nathaniel Persily, the Stanford professor who most recently redrew North Carolina’s legislative districts—which were repeatedly found to be racial gerrymanders—to redraw Pennsylvania’s congressional districts should that state’s legislature fail to appropriately act on the justices’ order.
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
The state Supreme Court appointed an adviser Friday to help it select a new congressional map if legislators and the governor miss their deadline for reconfiguring districts, even as legislators quietly began working on just that.
The court appointed Stanford University law professor Nathaniel Persily as an adviser “to assist the Court in adopting, if necessary, a remedial congressional redistricting plan,” according to its order.
I once called Persily the most important man in North Carolina politics—and I think that holds true. The districts he drew for the federal court gave Democrats a fighting chance to break the Republican supermajorities. Now the same could be said of him in Pennsylvania—a state where I used to live. But more than that, with control of the U.S. House of Representatives on the line in November, a reconfiguration of Pennsylvania’s seventeen congressional districts could have a profound impact on national politics as well.