Pennsylvania GOP’s last chance to keep gerrymandered map goes up in smoke

Addy Baird

Addy Baird Think Progress

The United States Supreme Court declined to hear a request from Republican legislators in Pennsylvania who wanted the court to block a new congressional map in the state. It’s the second time the high court has rejected the case, and there were no noted dissents.

The decision means that Pennsylvania’s upcoming May primaries in the state’s new districts will go forward without delay, and the new map is likely a boon for Democrats come general elections this fall. The deadline to qualify to run for the redrawn seats is Tuesday.

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court struck down the state’s congressional map earlier this year, determining that the map, drawn in 2011, violated the state’s constitution. The map was one of the most egregious examples of gerrymandering — a strategy of drawing districts in outlandish ways in an effort to elect more members of one party — in the county’s history, as Marc Stier, the director of Pennsylvania’s Budget and Policy Center, put it in an interview with ThinkProgress last week.

The map was ultimately redrawn by a nonpartisan expert, creating four swing districts, eight that favor Republicans, and six that favor Democrats. This is a sea-change from years past, when Republicans have typically won 13 out of 18 House seats despite getting only about 50 percent of total statewide votes.

Republican legislators in the state have fought to block the new map since January, arguing that the legislature should have been the one to redraw the map.

“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court conspicuously seized the redistricting process and prevented any meaningful ability for the legislature to enact a remedial map to ensure a court-drawn map,” state House Speaker Michael C. Turzai (R) and Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph B. Scarnati III said.

But federal courts have historically steered clear of issues of state constitutions, and the Supreme Court’s decision makes final the redrawn map.

President Donald Trump, of course, has weighed in on the issue, tweeting his support for the Republican cause last month.

“Your Original was correct!” he said. “Don’t let Dems take elections away from you so that they can raise taxes & waste money!”

The decision finalizing Pennsylvania’s new map comes less than a week after Democrat Conor Lamb won a special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th district, which Trump won by 20 points in 2016.

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Reposted from Think Progress

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Human Service Workers at Persad Center Vote to Join the USW

From the USW

Workers at Persad Center, a human service organization that serves the LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS communities of the Pittsburgh area, voted last week to join the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

The unit of 24 workers, ranging from therapists and program coordinators to case managers and administrative staff, announced their union campaign as the Persad Staff Union last month and filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

“We care about our work and the communities we serve,” said Johanna Smith, Persad’s Development, Communications, and Events Associate. “We strongly believe this work and our connections to our clients will only improve now that we will be represented by a union.”

The Persad workers join the growing number of white-collar professionals organizing with the USW, especially in the Pittsburgh region. Their membership is also in line with the recent work the Steelworkers have been doing to engage LGBTQ+ members and improve contract language regarding issues that affect their lives.

“Workplaces are changing and evolving, and the labor movement is changing and evolving along with that,” said USW Vice President Fred Redmond, who oversees the union’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee as well as the USW Health Care Workers Council. “This campaign gives us an opportunity to diversify our great union while uplifting and empowering a group of workers who give their all for others.”

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work