March 2, 2018

By: Whitney Snyder

Since our last update on this redistricting litigation, the General Assembly failed to pass a map for the Governor’s approval and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court prepared and adopted its own districting map, which it termed the Remedial Plan.  The Court’s map is based on the Commonwealth Court record and the plans that the parties, intervenors, and amici submitted to the court.  The Court found the Remedial Plan superior to the 2011 redistricting plan and all the plans submitted.  Justices Saylor and Mundy dissented.  Justice Baer dissented as because he thought the General Assembly was not given enough time to develop a new plan.

The Court released the Remedial Plan and its opinion on February 19, 2018. You can read in-depth analysis of the potential impact of the new map here and here. Three days later, the General Assembly applied for a stay of the map pending another attempted appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.  (The General Assembly attempted to have the U.S. Supreme Court stay the map after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its initial order, which Justice Alito denied on February 5, 2018.)  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court also denied a request for stay on February 27, 2018.  That same day the General Assembly sought another stay from the U.S. Supreme Court, which Justice Alito again will decide.  Prior to that decision Justice Alito has invited responses to the General Assembly’s stay request. The only difference in circumstances now is that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has now adopted its own Remedial Plan, whereas in the prior request for stay, a Court created and adopted plan was only a potential because the General Assembly had a chance to submit a compliant map – i.e. the case is now ripe.  Responses to the General Assembly’s request are due Monday, March 5.

State Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman and Senator Mike Folmer and some Republican members of Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation (U.S. Reps. Lou Barletta, Ryan Costello, Mike Kelly, Tom Marino, Scott Perry, Keith Rothfus, Lloyd Smucker, and Glenn Thompson) also are proceeding on a parallel litigation track in Corman v. Torres, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.  They filed a complaint on February 22, 2108 and concurrently sought a temporary restraining order (which the court can issue without notice to the other parties and which can only last for a maximum of 14 days) and a preliminary injunction (which requires notice to adverse parties and can remain in place throughout the course of the litigation) to stay application of the Remedial Plan.  Chief Third Circuit Judge D. Brooks Smith appointed a three-judge panel consisting of Judge Kent A. Jordan of the Third Circuit, Christopher C. Conner, Chief Judge for the Middle District, and Jerome B. Simandle, District Judge for the District of New Jersey.  All three judges were appointed by Republican Presidents.

One day later the panel denied the request for a restraining order but deferred decision on a preliminary injunction and scheduled a hearing on the injunction request for March 9. Also, on March 1, the panel granted a request by the 18 voters who were petitioners in the LWV matter to intervene as defendants.

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.