On Wednesday, January 31, the President pro tem of Pennsylvania’s Senate told the Supreme Court that he would openly defy the court’s recent order with regard to redrawing that state’s congressional districts.
The ongoing controversy about the ‘gerrymandered’ lines in that state is a matter of some national interest given the importance both parties have placed on this November’s midterm elections. Who gets elected has a lot to do with what lines are drawn around the districts between now and then.
On Monday, January 22, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held illegal the old map, created in 2011, and it ordered the legislature to come up with a new map by February 9.
With only a week to go until that deadline, Republican State Senator Joseph Scarnati contends that the state Supreme Court is infringing upon the legislature’s prerogative under the U.S. Constitution . One can read the letter his lawyers at Blank Rome have written on his behalf here.
A humorous side note: one of the more controversial districts created by the map is sometimes described as looking like Bullwinkle kicking Goofy.
Right Wing View
In order to understand the politics of this issue, all one really needs to know is that if the old map prevails, the Republicans will likely be somewhat stronger in the U.S. Congress next year than if the court manages to bring some new map into play by then. But of course the participants don’t see it that simply.
Senator Scarnati himself tweets that the Jan. 22d ruling was “a partisan action sowing a distinct lack of respect for the Constitution.”
At least one admirer on twitter calls Scarnati’s action – his promise of inaction that is — a matter of “genius,” and says “well done.” The admirer, Scott Paterno, believes that the advocates of new district lines want to keep the issue in the state courts, and that Scarnati rightly wants to get it to the U.S. Supreme Court. By openly defying the state’s highest court, he ensures that he will become a defendant in an enforcement action, and “his relief would be in federal court.” That’s the theory, anyway.
Another twitter denizen just finds it odd that the Blank Rome letter was signed by “a low-profile commercial litigator.” The commercial litigator in question is named Brian S. Paszamant.
Blank Rome is a quite distinguished law firm. Geraldine Ferraro, who was the first woman to be a major party nominee for vice president, was a partner.
Left Wing View
Vox has said that the decision has “huge implications” for the 2018 election because “Pennsylvania’s House map was one of the most wildly biased toward Republicans in the country.”
On the left, Scarnati’s defiance of this decision is roundly denounced. Jennifer Kolkin tweets, “Perhaps the PA Supreme Court needs to hold Scarnati in contempt for defying their decision. Seeing the inside of a jail cell might just correct his attitude.”
To understand Kolkin’s politics, one need only know that her home page says, “Every day I think, ‘I can’t possibly hate Trump any more than I do’ and then the very next day happens.”
Kaz Weida likewise says that the news from Pennsylvania suggests the state is “stuck in a bad episode of South Park,” with a GIF of Eric Cartman saying “I’ll do what I want!”
On January 26, the Supreme Court of the United States received a request from Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania that it, SCOTUS, step in and prevent the state Supreme Court from invalidating the 2011 map.
One expert, Rick Hasen, has said that SCOTUS intervention is a “longshot bid,” because SCOP had relied on that state’s own constitution not on the U.S. constitution.