“In gerrymandering case, judge recommends Pa. Supreme Court uphold congressional map”

Philly Inquirer:

 Commonwealth Court judge recommended Friday that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court uphold the state’s map of congressional districts in a high-profile gerrymandering lawsuit that challenges the map as unconstitutionally drawn to benefit Republicans.

 Democrats hold a 5-2 majority on the state’s high court, which has fast-tracked the suit. On Friday, the justices scheduled oral arguments for  Jan. 17 in Harrisburg.

“A lot can and has been said about the 2011 Plan, much of which is unflattering and yet justified,” wrote Commonwealth Court Judge P. Kevin Brobson, who had been tasked by the high court with holding a trial and submitting “findings of fact” and “conclusions of law” before the end of the year.

The plaintiffs had shown that partisan considerations were taken into account in creating the map, he wrote, and that more politically neutral maps could have been drawn that would not have been as favorable to the GOP.

But some degree of partisanship is considered acceptable in redistricting, he said, and the plaintiffs had not created a “judicially manageable standard” for the court to decide whether the map crossed the line.

“Petitioners, however, have failed to meet their burden of proving that the 2011 Plan, as a piece of legislation, clearly, plainly, and palpably violates the Pennsylvania Constitution,” he wrote. “For the judiciary, this should be the end of the inquiry.”

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