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Pa. Dems Sue Governor Over Plan

January 11, 2002

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) _ Democrats sued Gov. Mark Schweiker and other officials Thursday to stop the state from using a congressional redistricting plan the GOP says could increase its majority in the delegation.

The Democrats’ challenge argues the map is ``a massive political gerrymander″ that ignores basic principles of fairness and violates the U.S. Constitution.

The redistricting plan ``not only fails to equalize the population of each congressional district, but also ignores all traditional redistricting criteria, including the preservation of local government boundaries, solely for the sake of partisan advantage,″ the lawsuit claims.

Schweiker, a Republican, signed the plan Monday and the first use of the redrawn districts would be in the May 21 primary. The Republican-controlled General Assembly drew the map to reduce the state’s U.S. House delegation from 21 to 19, reflecting sluggish population growth in the 2000 Census.

Currently, Republicans hold 11 seats and Democrats hold 10. Of the 19 new districts, at least 13 are expected to elect Republicans, GOP officials have said.

Spokesmen for Schweiker and the Republican majority in the General Assembly did not return calls for comment Thursday.

The lawsuit was coordinated by Impact 2000, a Washington-based group associated with the Democratic Party that monitors redistricting efforts. Two Democratic voters are listed as plaintiffs.

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