HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let a court-ordered redrawing of congressional districts in Pennsylvania proceed, denying a plea from Republicans legislative leaders to block it.
Justice Samuel Alito, who handles emergency appeals from Pennsylvania, rejected the request from the GOP leaders and voters that the court put on hold an order from the state Supreme Court that could now produce new congressional districts in the coming two weeks.
The Pennsylvania high court ruled last month that the current map of 18 districts violates the state constitution because it unfairly benefits Republicans.
The U.S. Supreme Court typically does not review state court decisions based on a state’s constitution, but the Republicans asked the high court to make an exception.
The decision comes just four days before the Republican-controlled Legislature’s deadline for submitting a replacement map for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to consider. So far, there has been a notable lack of bipartisan movement on getting such a deal.
The Democratic-majority state Supreme Court has ruled that if lawmakers and the governor can’t agree to a plan, the court will quickly move to adopt one.
Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation has been 13-5 in favor of Republicans during the three election cycles since the GOP-drawn 2011 map took effect. Democrats have about 800,000 more registered voters than Republicans and hold all three elected statewide row offices, but Republicans hold solid majorities in both chambers of the Legislature.
Under the process laid out two weeks ago by four of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices, all Democrats, the Legislature has until Friday to approve a new map, after which Wolf will have until Feb. 15 to decide whether to endorse it and submit it to the justices.
The state Supreme Court said it expects new districts to be in place by Feb. 19, and the new map will be in play for the May 15 congressional primaries.