Pa. state Senate leader refuses court order on redrawing district maps

Pa. state Senate leader refuses court order on redrawing district maps
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The Pennsylvania state Senate president pro tempore said Wednesday he will not cooperate with the state Supreme Court's request to turn over data after it found that the state's congressional map was unconstitutionally gerrymandered.

Joe Scarnati (R) said he wouldn't turn over the data requested by the court.

"In light of the unconstitutionality of the Court’s Orders and the Court’s plain intent to usurp the General Assembly’s constitutionally delegated role of drafting Pennsylvania’s congressional districting plan, Sen. Scarnati will not be turning over any data identified in the Court’s Orders," his lawyers wrote in a letter to the court.

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The state's Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that the congressional map was gerrymandered to the point that it was unconstitutional. As a result, the state must draw a new map ahead of this year's elections.

The state ordered the General Assembly to turn over files that "contain the current boundaries of all Pennsylvania municipalities and precincts" by Wednesday.

A lawyer for the General Assembly said in a separate filing that "the General Assembly and its Legislative Data Processing Center do not maintain ESRI shape files that contain current boundaries of all Pennsylvania municipalities and precincts," The Philadelphia Inquirer reported  

The state Supreme Court decision was hailed as a major victory for Democrats, who argued the old map unfairly favored Republicans.

GOP lawmakers in Pennsylvania earlier this month asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the state court’s decision.

Lawyers for Republican state legislative leaders argued in a court filing Thursday that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court violated a clause that allows state legislatures to handle congressional redistricting, The Associated Press reported.

The filing requests that the Supreme Court put on hold a lower courts ruling while it considers Republicans' argument.

Pennsylvania currently has 13 Republicans five Democrats serving in the House.

The state had been reliably Democratic in presidential races, with the Democratic nominee winning the state in each election dating back to 1992. But the state was a fierce battleground in the 2016 election and narrowly went to Trump.