By: Whitney Snyder

On November 9, 2017 the PA Supreme Court granted LWV’s petition requesting that it order the Commonwealth Court to hear the case now and on an expedited basis, vacating the stay Judge Pelligrini ordered on October 16, 2017.   The Court directed the Commonwealth Court to tee up the case for the Court’s decision, ordering Commonwealth Court to conduct all necessary proceedings and provide findings of fact and conclusion of law no later than December 31, 2017.  Justices Saylor, Baer and Mundy dissented.

On Friday November 10, the Commonwealth Court assigned Judge Kevin Brobson to conduct the proceedings.  On November 13, Judge Brobson issued an order setting a December 11 trial date. The order also drops the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania as a plaintiff in the case, reasoning that because the League of Women Voters does not have the right to vote, it “lacks standing to file political gerrymandering claims.”

Nomination petitions for the 2018 elections are due on March 6, 2018.  With the timeline that the Court set, it appears it could decide the case prior to that date.  The intervening months will be a flurry of activity, with only approximately 7 weeks until the Commonwealth Court’s findings are due, depositions pending, and a hearing to hold.  Stay tuned for additional case updates as events unfold.

Meanwhile, in the Federal District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, in Agre v. Wolf, Judge Baylson writing for a three-judge panel including Chief Circuit Judge Smith and Circuit Judge Shwartz, partially granted the General Assembly’s motion to dismiss.  The court dismissed Plaintiffs’ claims as to violation of equal protections under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and violation of the First Amendment.  Claims concerning violations of the Elections clause remain.  On Friday, October 10, 2017, Judge Baylson granted a motion to compel and ordered the General Assembly to turn over in discovery documents regarding how they developed the 2011 districting map, including communications.

About the Author:  

Whitney Snyder, attorney at Hawke, McKeon & Sniscak, LLP, represents clients in wide-ranging appellate matters in state and federal court.  Her practice focuses primarily on administrative agency appeals and litigation.  Prior to joining the firm Whitney interned at the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.