CASE SUMMARY

On December 17, 2021, a group of registered voters filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Secretary of State and the Director for the Pennsylvania Bureau of Election Services and Notaries challenging the state's then current congressional districts as unconstitutional. The plaintiffs alleged that due to population shifts over the last decade, the state's congressional districts had become unconstitutionally malapportioned in violation of the one person, one vote constitutional requirement. Furthermore, plaintiffs asserted the defendants had months to enact a new congressional plan and failed to do so, thereby requiring the court's intervention to ensure a properly apportioned plan was in place for the 2022 primary election. The plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment that Pennsylvania's then current congressional redistricting plan violated the Free and Equal Elections Clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution, Article I, § 2 of the U.S. Constitution, and 2 U.S.C. § 2(c) and an injunction barring the defendants from using that plan in any future elections. They also requested the court implement a new congressional redistricting plan that complied with one person, one vote.

On December 20, 2021, the court issued an order consolidating this case with another challenge to Pennsylvania's congressional districts, Gressman v. DeGraffenreid. On December 21, the plaintiffs filed an Application for Extraordinary Relief with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, seeking to have that Court assume extraordinary jurisdiction over the case. Plaintiffs argued the Commonwealth Court's scheduling order for the case would leave no time for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to review its final decision prior to the 2022 primary election, and given these time constraints and the public importance of the lawsuit, the Supreme Court should take over handling the case immediately. On January 10, 2022 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied the application.

On January 14, 2022 the Commonwealth Court issued an order establishing a January 24, 2022 deadline for the parties to submit proposed redistricting plans for the court's consideration. In that order, the court further provided that if the General Assembly failed to enact a congressional plan by January 30, the court would issue an opinion adopting a plan thereafter. The bench trial for this case was held on January 27-28.

On February 2, 2022, only a few days after the Commonwealth Court completed its trial in this case and despite the Court having denied such requests twice already, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted the petitioners' third request to assume extraordinary jurisdiction over the case, citing the impact that prolonged appeals would have on the state's election calendar. The Court designated the Commonwealth Court judge who was previously handling this case to serve as Special Master and directed her to file her recommended redistricting plan and accompanying report with the Court by February 7, 2022, with oral arguments scheduled to take place on February 18, 2022. The trial court judge submitted her report and accompanying map recommendation on February 7.

On February 9, 2022 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an order temporarily suspending the 2022 General Primary Election calendar pending further order of the Court. On February 23, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an order adopting the Carter petitioners' proposed congressional redistricting plan, vacating its previous order temporarily suspending the 2022 election calendar, and detailing a modified primary election calendar for the 2022 elections.

Similar Case: Carter v. DeGraffenreid

CASE LIBRARY

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania - No. 464 MD 2021 [together with No. 465 MD 2021] [Formerly Carter v. Degraffenreid II]

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania - No. 141 MM 2021 [together with No. 142 MM 2021]

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Middle District - No. 5 MAP 2022 [together with 6 MAP 2022]

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Middle District - No. 7 MM 2022