Judges refuse GOP request to block new Pa. district boundaries

Judges refuse GOP request to block new Pa. district boundaries
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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 BarlettaEx-GOP congressman to lead group to protect Italian products from tariffs Head of Pennsylvania GOP resigns over alleged explicit texts Trump's most memorable insults and nicknames of 2018 MORE, Ryan CostelloRyan Anthony CostellloFormer GOP Rep. Costello launches lobbying shop Head of Pennsylvania GOP resigns over alleged explicit texts Lobbying world MORE, Mike KellyGeorge (Mike) Joseph KellyOvernight Defense: Pentagon policy chief resigns at Trump's request | Trump wishes official 'well in his future endeavors' | Armed Services chair warns against Africa drawdown after trip Even in a time of impeachment, health care is on the agenda Top moments from historic House impeachment debate 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 PerryDCCC to run ads tying 11 House Republicans to Trump remarks on entitlements Koch network could target almost 200 races in 2020, official says Overnight Health Care: New drug price hikes set stage for 2020 fight | Conservative group to spend M attacking Pelosi drug plan | Study finds Medicaid expansion improved health in Southern states MORE, Keith RothfusKeith James RothfusConor Lamb gets 2020 challenger touted by Trump The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Trump's most memorable insults and nicknames of 2018 MORE, Lloyd SmuckerLloyd Kenneth SmuckerLobbying World Koch campaign touts bipartisan group behind ag labor immigration bill Rising number of GOP lawmakers criticize Trump remarks about minority Dems MORE and Glenn ThompsonGlenn (G.T.) W. ThompsonSheila Jackson Lee tops colleagues in House floor speaking days over past decade Koch campaign touts bipartisan group behind ag labor immigration bill Dreamers-for-wall trade going nowhere in House 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.