Constitutional crisis ahead?
We will likely soon see another appeal by the Pennsylvania General Assembly to the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) regarding Congressional district apportionment, as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has exceeded its writ regarding the matter. While SCOTUS has often declined to become involved in state government internal issues, having previously declined a General Assembly request on the issue, the direct involvement of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the matter has provided the grounds for a second appeal.
The state Supreme Court does have, per the state Constitution (Article III, Sections 16-17), a designated role in the decennial re-drawing of Pennsylvania state legislative boundaries. However, per a recent lawsuit’s challenging of gerrymandered boundaries for the state’s Congressional Districts, the court has extended its writ to adjudicate those as well. This is by the court’s fiat, and runs counter to Article I, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, which clearly assigns the task of Congressional redistricting to the state Legislatures.
This presents the Pennsylvania Legislature with a major challenge should this latest appeal to SCOTUS be unsuccessful.
Should it comply with a manifestly unconstitutional, and thus illegal, direction by the state Supreme Court?
Or should it provoke a constitutional crisis at the federal and state level by refusing to comply?
Redrawing the current map seems to be mistakenly believed by many as the means to somehow improve the quality of our government.
Instead, this effort to redraw Congressional boundaries is deeply mired in party politics with only lip service given to improving the quality of our government.
The reality remains: If Pennsylvanians believe they want a better Congressional delegation, tinkering with boundaries certainly won’t do it.
For a better Congress, the voters must elect better people to serve.