Can State Courts Cure Partisan Gerrymandering: Lessons from League of Women Voters v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (2018)

51 Pages Posted: 29 May 2018 Last revised: 5 Aug 2018

Jonathan R. Cervas

University of California, Irvine, Department of Political Science

Bernard Grofman

University of California - Irvine - Department of Politics and Society

Date Written: April 22, 2018

Abstract

In League of Women Voters v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (2018) the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down a congressional plan that embodied one of the most egregious partisan gerrymanders of the 2010 redistricting round. It did so entirely on state law grounds after a three-judge federal court had rejected issuing a preliminary injunction against the plan. Here we examine the ruling and the expert evidence it relied on. We also contrast the criteria used to evaluate partisan gerrymandering by this court with those used by the federal three judge panels that found unconstitutional levels of partisan gerrymandering in plans in Wisconsin and North Carolina, and we compare it to the so far unsuccessful challenge in Maryland. In our concluding discussion we review the key lessons to be learned from this case, and the implications of the case for other jurisdictions, especially those in the twelve states whose state constitutions have provisions similar or identical to the one relied upon by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Keywords: Gerrymandering; Redistricting; Elections

JEL Classification: K

Suggested Citation

Cervas, Jonathan R. and Grofman, Bernard, Can State Courts Cure Partisan Gerrymandering: Lessons from League of Women Voters v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (2018) (April 22, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3181092 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3181092

Jonathan R. Cervas

University of California, Irvine, Department of Political Science ( email )

Irvine, CA
United States

Bernard Grofman (Contact Author)

University of California - Irvine - Department of Politics and Society ( email )

Irvine, CA 92697-5100
United States
(949) 824-6394, 5361 (Phone)

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