Pennsylvania, as is every other state in the nation, is now engaged in the process of redrawing congressional and legislative district lines. In most states the process is controlled by one party with Republicans holding power in more states than Democrats. Republicans are further advantaged by a shift in population, and therefore congressional districts, to southern states.
As is typical when they can’t win by following the rules Democrats are seeking to change the rules. Although Pennsylvania is one of the few states with a divided power dynamic – Republicans control the legislature and the governor is a Democrat – Democrats and their allies in the legacy media have for months been spinning the big lie that the system is rigged in favor of Republicans.
The process of enacting new congressional district lines is exactly the same as the process for passing any law. The new map will be introduced as a bill which must win a majority of votes in both the state House and the state Senate and then be signed by the governor. Committees in both Houses of the legislature are holding hearings and have established mechanisms for public input. If you think the process of enacting laws is fair, then it follows the process of congressional redistricting is fair.
A Left-wing group known as Fair Districts PA (which more appropriately should be named Democrat Districts PA) attempted to change the ground rules by replacing that process with a commission of citizens who supposedly would bring no political bias to the table. That, of course, was a completely unrealistic expectation and the group’s efforts to subvert the process failed.
But the Left is nothing if not persistent. Having failed to supplant the constitutional process with a citizens’ commission they are now working hard to pervert the proceedings through tweaks designed to either give Democrats the advantage or lay the groundwork for legal challenges.
As an example, a parallel effort is underway to redraw state legislative district lines. That process is substantially different in that a commission comprised of the Republican and Democrat leaders of both the House and Senate along with one “independent” member will draw the lines.
Despite being two distinctly different processes the underlying legal requirements for drawing district lines are the same for both congressional and legislative redistricting. The Left made its first ploy to change the rules in the legislative redistricting commission by seeking to have inmates incarcerated in state prisons counted in the population of the area in which they previously resided rather than in the district where the correctional facility – their current residence – is located.
This seemingly innocuous change would have a big impact. Most correctional facilities are located in smaller, more rural – and therefore more Republican-leaning communities while the inmate population largely originated in urban more Democrat-leaning areas. The change in where that population is counted could result in a shift of districts to urban areas.
The commission’s independent member, former University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, initially sided with Democrats in approving the change. But Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward proposed a compromise which would count any inmate whose sentence extended past 2030 in the location of the prison, those whose sentences are set to expire before then would be counted in their pre-incarceration location. That satisfied Nordenberg who then voted with Republicans to enact the compromise.
This is just one of what will surely be many efforts by the Left to change the ground rules to do exactly what they claim to oppose: gerrymandered congressional and legislative district maps. Thus, the big lie: their goal is not “fair” districts, but rather districts gerrymandered their advantage.
And the Left has a trump card. Nationally Democrats are following a “sue until its blue” strategy, meaning what they can’t get following the rules they will seek to accomplish in the courts. In Penn’s Woods a highly political, activist state Supreme Court has already re-gerrymandered congressional district lines once. There is no reason to believe that they will not do it again.
The stakes are high – the U.S. House of Representatives is almost evenly divided and majority control largely hinges on the outcome of the congressional redistricting process. Given their past success in stealing elections by changing the rules, Democrats are implementing the same strategy with redistricting. Republicans beware.
(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly American Radio Journal and Lincoln Radio Journal. His e-mail address is [email protected].)
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