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The Latest: Justices explain decision in gerrymandering case

February 7, 2018

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Latest on Pennsylvania’s congressional map (all times local):

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6 p.m.

A Pennsylvania Supreme Court majority is explaining why it found the state’s widely criticized congressional district boundaries to be unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit Republicans last month.

In a 139-page majority opinion released late Wednesday afternoon, Justice Debra Todd wrote that the plan violates the elections clause of the state’s Constitution.

She writes that a map of congressional districts violates that clause when neutral standards such as compact and contiguous districts are subordinated for unfair partisan political advantage.

She says those standards were written into the state constitution in 1874 to address gerrymandering concerns in state legislative districts, and says those neutral benchmarks are suitable to apply to a congressional map.

The court struck down the Republican-drawn district boundaries on Jan. 22. The justices’ 5-2 decision broke along partisan lines, with Democrats in the majority.

The court’s majority gave lawmakers until this Friday to produce a replacement. Otherwise, the justices say they’ll adopt a plan for this year’s elections.

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12:30 p.m.

Pennsylvania lawmakers are heading home with two days to comply with a court order to submit a new map of the state’s 18 congressional districts.

Wednesday’s voting sessions were canceled amid winter storms.

Rank-and-file Republicans say House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati are working on a new map and considering submitting it to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf by Friday’s deadline without bringing it to a vote in either chamber.

The state Supreme Court struck down the Republican-drawn district boundaries in a gerrymandering case Jan. 22 and gave lawmakers until this Friday to produce a replacement. Otherwise, the justices say they’ll adopt a plan, potentially one proposed by a party to the case.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned down Turzai and Scarnati’s request to halt the redrawing.

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