Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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Congressional redistricting is on the docket in 2018.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | January 16, 2018

No. 1,397

The  Pennsylvania Supreme Court has announced that it will promptly take up League of Women Voters v. Commonwealth,  which is the case involving the re-drawing of the map of Congressional  Districts.

See our December 30, 2017 post on the subject.

A decision is expected in February. Speed is of the essence here, since the United States Supreme Court is poised to decide similar Constitutional issues involving how far the legislature can go in district realignment to maximize the voting power of one party and minimize the power of the other.

The U.S. Supreme Court has already heard arguments in a case from Wisconsin and will soon hear one from Maryland. Two cases from Texas have been recently added. 

The argument attacking the district alignment can be stated in terms of votes wasted.  By concentrating a high proportion of opposition voters in certain districts, under that theory, the votes beyond those required to win a majority are wasted because they cannot be cast in a neighboring district where the outcome could be changed. The problem is how to define this practice in a way that can be addressed by judicial action.  Either party can be expected to attempt to gain such an advantage.  When does the reassignment of voters to change the outcome become so extreme that it violates the Constitution by denying equal protection to voters in the minority? And what does a court do to protect the rights of the aggrieved party? Proponents of judicial intervention have presented statistics prepared by expert witnesses, but judges are often skeptical.  Chief Justice Roberts expressed that view during oral argument in the Wisconsin case.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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