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Chester County Press

The truth is: Redrawing proportional representation in the face of arrogance

02/13/2018 12:38PM ● By Richard Gaw
Winning in politics – no matter the cost, even at the risk of losing all credibility and self dignity – reached a new low in Pennsylvania last week.

In an impassioned letter to his Republican colleagues in Harrisburg dated Feb. 5, State Representative Cris Dush called for the impeachment of five of the state Supreme Court justices, on the heels of the court's Jan. 22 order that stated that the Congressional Redistricting Act of 2011 is “clearly, plainly and palpably" violates the state constitution, and that the misshapen and clearly gerrymandered congressional maps throughout the state – all created to favor Republicans – must be redrawn. It then gave Sen. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled Legislature until Feb. 15 to redraw the maps. If no compromise is reached by that date, the Democratic-controlled Supreme Court will draw the lines on its own.

"The five Justices who signed this order that blatantly and clearly contradicts the plain language of the Pennsylvania Constitution, engaged in misbehavior in office," Dush wrote. "Each is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office and disqualification to hold any office or trust or profit under this Commonwealth."

Dush was not alone. Several members of the Pennsylvania Republican Congressional Delegation issued a statement in opposition to the Supreme Court ruling, calling it “a misguided decision” and “an unfortunate example of the judicial branch inserting itself into the core functions of the legislative branch.”

“Today’s Congressional maps were drafted and approved by both Republicans and Democrats,” the statement read. “It also comes on the eve of a midterm election. An orderly electoral process is an essential function of our Democracy.” The statement was signed by U.S. Reps. Glenn Thompson (Pa.-05), Mike Kelly (Pa-03), Scott Perry (Pa.-04), Ryan Costello (Pa.-06), Bill Shuster (Pa.-09), Tom Marino (Pa.-10), Keith Rothfus (Pa.-12), Charlie Dent (Pa.-15) and Lloyd Smucker (Pa.-16), and Patrick Meehan (Pa.-07), whose oddly-shaped congressional boundaries, critics assert, were designed in order to protect him.

In light of these accusations, the truth is that not one of the five members of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will be forced to leave the court.

The truth is that these lines were all drawn for political gain.

The truth is that Republicans have held the pens that draw the lines that have favored the Pennsylvania GOP for the last two decades.

The truth is that these efforts to undermine the court are being done to help weather the harsh, blue tsunami of anti-Trumpism that is expected to sweep over mid-term elections come this November, which could dramatically alter the current 13-to-5 Republican majority in the state's congressional delegation.

The truth is that these state lawmakers are in fear of losing their jobs.

The truth is that both their constituencies, and those that favor other parties, have vehemently denounced gerrymandering, and they know who has held the pens and drawn the lines – power brokers who have chosen to play to the extremes of their base instead of governing to the center.

The truth is that they have neglected to understand that the goal of elections is to seek lawmakers who correspond their goals to the entirety of the public – in a show of inclusive, proportional representation.

With their objection of the court's ruling however, and by any continued measure of their initiatives to oust Supreme Court judges, these state representatives have committed the sin of arrogance, and with these actions, have likely sealed their future fate, and that of the Republican Party in Harrisburg, for years to come.