Statement from the Petitioners regarding Senator Scarnati’s and Representative Turzai’s proposed congressional map
Last night Senator Scarnati and House Speaker Turzai proposed a congressional map to Governor Wolf and filed a brief with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in support of their map.
In a repeat of 2011, this map was created in secret, behind closed doors. The General Assembly did not enact this map as contemplated by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in its recent order and opinion. Democratic legislators had no opportunity to give their input, and there were no hearings or public debate in either house of the General Assembly about this proposed map.
Senator Scarnati and Representative Turzai’s claim that they did not have enough time to pass legislation is not true. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the General Assembly to draw a new map on January 22, 2018, and the Court gave the General Assembly clear criteria for any new map in that January 22 order. Moreover, the Court gave the General Assembly exactly as much time to pass a new plan as their own lawyers said they needed—three weeks. It appears that the General Assembly simply sat on its hands for most of this time, instead wasting taxpayer money on a frivolous appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and a baseless motion to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court seeking to disqualify two of the justices. Simply put, the General Assembly had plenty of time to enact a map, but it chose not to.
As for the proposal that Speaker Turzai and Senator Scarnati unveiled last night, it is a naked partisan gerrymander just as much as the unconstitutional 2011 map. The proposed map splits Montgomery County four ways and Berks County three ways for no reason other than obvious partisan motivations. Other anomalies abound.
Even more disturbingly, the legislative leaders present false and misleading data regarding the proposed plan’s purported compactness. They offer data suggesting that their proposed map is as compact as many of the 500 non-partisan plans that Petitioners’ expert Dr. Jowei Chen presented at trial, but this is not true. Legislative leaders instead concocted a different methodology for calculating compactness scores, without disclosing that they were not making an apples-to-apples comparison to Dr. Chen’s calculations. Their proposed map continues to significantly sacrifice compactness to partisan interests. Legislative leaders have provided the public with a picture of their proposed map but the underlying shapefiles can be found here: https://pubintlaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/attachment-1.zip