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A panel of federal judges in Pennsylvania refused on Monday to block the state Supreme Court's new congressional map from going into effect, dealing a blow to Republicans who had sought to block it.
Top Republican officials in the state had joined with Republican members of the state's congressional delegation to challenge the new map, which was drawn by the state Supreme Court after it struck down the old map as an unconstitutional gerrymander.
Those plaintiffs — including Pennsylvania Republican Reps. Lou BarlettaLouis (Lou) James BarlettaJosh Shapiro officially launches Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro enters governor's race Barletta holds wide lead over GOP rivals in early poll of Pennsylvania governor race MORE, Ryan CostelloRyan Anthony CostellloRep. Brendan Boyle decides against Pennsylvania Senate bid Pennsylvania's Democratic lt. governor files to run for Senate Bottom Line MORE, Mike KellyGeorge (Mike) Joseph KellyHouse Ethics panel reviewing Rep. Malinowski's stock trades Lobbying world Lobbying world MORE, Tom MarinoThomas (Tom) Anthony MarinoWhy the North Carolina special election has national implications The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push Republican wins special House election in Pennsylvania MORE, Scott PerryScott Gordon PerryJan. 6 panel votes to hold Bannon in contempt Jan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Jan. 6 panel subpoenas Jeffrey Clark, backer of Trump efforts at DOJ MORE, Keith RothfusKeith James RothfusConor Lamb defeats Trump-backed challenger for reelection in Pennsylvania CNN's Tapper tried to talk GOP candidate out of running against Democratic incumbent: report Lobbying world MORE, Lloyd SmuckerLloyd Kenneth SmuckerSixth House GOP lawmaker issued K metal detector fine Ethics panel dismisses GOP lawmaker's ,000 metal detector fine House Ethics panel upholds ,000 metal detector fine against GOP lawmaker MORE and Glenn ThompsonGlenn (G.T.) W. ThompsonBipartisan bill will change checkerboard of broadband connectivity in rural America OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court rules that pipeline can seize land from New Jersey | Study: EPA underestimated methane emissions from oil and gas development | Kevin McCarthy sets up task forces on climate, other issues Stefanik shake-up jump-starts early jockeying for committee posts MORE — took issue with the three-week timeline the state court gave the GOP-controlled legislature and the Democratic governor to reach an agreement before stepping in to draw the lines itself. They argued that the window was too short and that the entire process violated the state legislature's right to draw the lines.
But the three-judge panel with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania ruled against those lawmakers and declined to block the new maps from being implemented before the state's May primary.
"The Plaintiffs' frustration with the process by which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court implemented its own redistricting map is plain," the judges wrote in their opinion.
"But frustration, even frustration emanating from arduous time constraints placed on the legislative process, does not accord the Plaintiffs a right to relief."
The new lines have been seen as a boon for Democrats, who stand to benefit electorally. Right now, the party has control of just five congressional seats in the state compared to 13 controlled by Republicans, even though Pennsylvania is seen as a swing state and regularly elects Democrats statewide.
The new map drawn by the court would expand Democratic opportunities in a handful of districts — the nonpartisan election analysts at Cook Political Report lists seven Republican-held seats on its list of the most competitive races in the country.
One of those seats, currently held by retiring Rep. Pat MeehanPatrick (Pat) Leo MeehanBottom line Freshman lawmaker jokes about pace of Washington politics Many authors of GOP tax law will not be returning to Congress MORE, is listed as a "likely Democratic" victory in 2018. Three more are considered toss-ups, while three others are subsequently listed as "likely Republican."
The court ruling limits Republican recourse as they try to block the maps from taking effect, but the party still has options. The plaintiffs can appeal to the federal 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. And Republicans also have an emergency suit pending at the U.S. Supreme Court, but it's unclear when the court would act on that challenge.