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House GOP leader asks high court to throw out Assembly maps

February 17, 2022 GMT

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The legislative leader on the losing end of a 4-1 vote two weeks ago to approve new General Assembly district lines filed a lawsuit Thursday asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to throw out the new districts and separately sought to have 10-year-old maps be used in this year’s election.

House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, argued the Legislative Reapportionment Commission’s set of House maps is slanted in favor of Democrats and violates state constitutional standards in splitting municipalities and by how much some districts would vary from the average district’s population size.

He also claimed that by creating districts that encompass significant numbers of Black, Asian and Latino voters, the reapportionment “illegally draws to a racial target.”

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The appeal by Benninghoff and any others filed before the March 7 deadline, along with any changes to the May 17 primary schedule, will be decided by the justices. Districts are being redrawn to account for population changes since the 2000 census.

Benninghoff sought to have the commission adopt a plan of his choosing before the vote on Feb. 4. He was supported by Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, but his amendment failed 3-2.

The other commission members are the House and Senate Democratic leaders, and chairman Mark Nordenberg, a Democrat picked by the Democratic-majority Supreme Court after the four leaders could not agree on their fifth member.

Also Thursday, the Supreme Court said all appeals and briefs are due by March 7 and the Legislative Reapportionment Commission would have until March 11 to respond. The justices said they do not intend to have oral argument.