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

Forthcoming, Election Law Journal

30 Pages Posted: 29 May 2018 Last revised: 2 Oct 2018

Bernard Grofman

University of California - Irvine - Department of Politics and Society

Jonathan R. Cervas

University of California, Irvine, Department of Political Science

Date Written: April 22, 2018

Abstract

In League of Women Voters et al. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania et al. (2018), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down that state’s congressional plan as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. It did so entirely on state law grounds after a three-judge federal court had rejected issuing a preliminary injunction against the plan. The aim of this essay is to examine the implications of LWV for future partisan gerrymandering litigation. In particular, we look toward the applicability of the Pennsylvania court’s approach to other potential partisan gerrymandering challenges brought under state law, especially those in the twelve states whose state constitutions have provisions essentially identical to the one relied upon by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and in states with similar provisions. We pay particular attention to how the Court made use of the expert witness testimony in the case, relying on some of it, while rejecting or critiquing the applicability of other elements, since such a discussion can inform future litigation in state courts drawing on the LWV opinion for ideas. In our concluding discussion we contrast the criteria used to evaluate partisan gerrymandering by this court with those used by federal courts, and we look at how it may impact the decisions of legislators about line drawing in 2020.

Keywords: Gerrymandering; Redistricting; Elections

JEL Classification: K

Suggested Citation

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

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)

Jonathan R. Cervas

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

Irvine, CA
United States

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