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Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
January 17, 2018, Argued; February 7, 2018, Filed
No. 159 MM 2017
[*8] [**740] JUSTICE TODD
It is a core principle of our republican form of government "that the voters should choose their representatives, not [**741] the other way around."1 In this case, Petitioners allege that the Pennsylvania Congressional Redistricting Act of 20112 (the "2011 Plan") does the latter, infringing upon that most central of democratic rights — the right to vote. Specifically, they contend that the 2011 Plan is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. While federal courts have, to date, been unable to settle on a workable standard by which to assess such claims under the federal Constitution, we find no such barriers under our great Pennsylvania charter. The people of this Commonwealth should never lose sight of the fact that, in its protection [***2] of essential rights, our founding document is the ancestor, not the offspring, of the federal Constitution. We conclude that, in this matter, it provides a constitutional standard, and remedy, even if the federal charter does not. Specifically, we hold that the 2011 Plan violates Article I, Section 5 — the Free and Equal Elections Clause — of the Pennsylvania Constitution.
The challenge herein was brought in June 2017 by Petitioners, the League of Women Voters3 and 18 voters — all registered Democrats, one from each of our state's congressional districts — against Governor Thomas W. Wolf, Lieutenant Governor Michael J. Stack, III, Secretary Robert Torres, and Commissioner Jonathan M. Marks (collectively, "Executive Respondents"), and the General Assembly, Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph B. Scarnati, III, and House Speaker [*9] Michael C. Turzai (collectively, "Legislative Respondents").45 Petitioners alleged that the 2011 Plan violated several provisions of our state Constitution.
On January 22, 2018, this Court entered a per curiam order6 agreeing with Petitioners, and deeming the 2011 Plan to "clearly, plainly and palpably violate" our state Constitution, and so enjoined its further use.7 See Order, [***3] 1/22/18. We further provided that, if the General Assembly and the Governor did not enact a remedial plan by February 15, 2018, this Court would choose a remedial plan. For those endeavors, we set forth the criteria to be applied in measuring the constitutionality [**742] of any remedial plan, holding that:
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
645 Pa. 1 *; 178 A.3d 737 **; 2018 Pa. LEXIS 771 ***; 2018 WL 750872
LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF PENNSYLVANIA, CARMEN FEBO SAN MIGUEL, JAMES SOLOMON, JOHN GREINER, JOHN CAPOWSKI, GRETCHEN BRANDT, THOMAS RENTSCHLER, MARY ELIZABETH LAWN, LISA ISAACS, DON LANCASTER, JORDI COMAS, ROBERT SMITH, WILLIAM MARX, RICHARD MANTELL, PRISCILLA MCNULTY, THOMAS ULRICH, ROBERT MCKINSTRY, MARK LICHTY, LORRAINE PETROSKY, Petitioners v. THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA; THE PENNSYLVANIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY; THOMAS W. WOLF, IN HIS CAPACITY AS GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA; MICHAEL J. STACK III, IN HIS CAPACITY AS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA AND PRESIDENT OF THE PENNSYLVANIA SENATE; MICHAEL C. TURZAI, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SPEAKER OF THE PENNSYLVANIA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES; JOSEPH B. SCARNATI III, IN HIS CAPACITY AS PENNSYLVANIA SENATE PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE; ROBERT TORRES, IN HIS CAPACITY AS ACTING SECRETARY OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA; JONATHAN M. MARKS, IN HIS CAPACITY AS COMMISSIONER OF THE BUREAU OF COMMISSIONS, ELECTIONS, AND LEGISLATION OF THE PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Respondents
Subsequent History: As Amended May 2, 2018.
Prior History: [***1] On the Recommended Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania entered on 12/29/17 at No. 261 MD 2017.
League of Women Voters of Pa. v. Commonwealth, 644 Pa. 287, 175 A.3d 282, 2018 Pa. LEXIS 438 (Pa., Jan. 22, 2018)
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