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Redstricting in Pennsylvania:

The Supreme Court's ruling 

April 2004


On April 28, 2004, the Supreme Court upheld Pennsylvania's congressional redistricting map -- one that all observers acknowledge
was a partisan gerrymander in favor of Republicans as well as a plan that shield most incumbents from competition.

The ruling was 5-4. Four justices (Justice Scalia wrote for O'Connor, Rehnquist and Thomas) would remove the federal courts from all political gerrymandering claims. One justice (Kennedy) joined them in denying the plaintiffs' claim in Pennsylvania.  Four justices (Breyer, Ginsberg, Souter and Stevens), supported the plaintiffs while offering three different opinions.

The Justices' difficulty with this issue and the majority's opinion in this case suggest that we must pursue political solutions to this immense problem -- a problem that, in concert with winner-take-all elections, denies most Americans with any realistic opportunity to change their representation in the U.S. House and consistently under-represents political and racial minorities in a given state.  The Center for Voting and Democracy suggests that there are important improvements to be made in redistricting, there is only one unambiguously positive reform that meets all the goals of those seeking fair redistricting: full representation in multi-seat districts.

For more on the case and on full representation, see:

CVD's Steven Hill and Rob Richie writing in Tom Paine.com on the problem of gerrymandering--and the urgent need for full representation. (May 5, 2004)

The Washington Post's coverage of the decision. (April 29, 2004)

* Opinions of Scalia, Kennedy, Stevens, Souter, and Breyer, issued on April 28, 2004. (April 29, 2004)

* Key amicus curiae in the case (April 29, 2004)

* Motions and orders in the case (April 29, 2004)

* April 2004 conference on redistricting at the Brookings Institute, with papers available for download and proceedings able to to be viewed on-line

From CVD on Redistricting: 

* "The Gerrymander Moment" - Commentary on the case
 from the Center in December 2003

* The Center's public interest guide to redistricting, with
the latest news from all 50 states

* Monopoly Politics, a CVD report showing the predictability of U.S. House races, due in large part to the redistricting process. 

* Dubious Democracy, another CVD report that examines the failure of the U.S. House to represent a majority of Americans.

* Background on full representation


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