Cert. Petition Asserts Racial Gerrymandering of PA State Legislative Districts

Here’s the question presented by the cert petition in Benninghoff v. 2021 Legislative Reapportionment Commission, brought by Pennsylvania’s Republican House Majority Leader:

Pennsylvania’s Legislative Reapportionment Commission admittedly made extensive use of race in constructing up to 14 state legislative districts. The Commission “positioned” Pennsylvania voters into districts because of their race, drawing majority-minority and influence districts in Philadelphia, Allentown, and elsewhere, even though it admitted its use of race went well beyond what the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (the “VRA”) required. The Commission asserted race was not “predominant” because it allegedly first “focused” on traditional districting principles and its districts “performed well” on various traditional districting criteria metrics like average compactness or overall municipal splits. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held, without written opinion, that the plan complied with the U.S. Constitution.

The question presented is whether districts drawn for transparently racial reasons, without a VRA-compliance justification, satisfy the Fourteenth Amendment merely because the redistricting authority also satisfied traditional districting principles.

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