Letter: Support end to gerrymandering

“It’s just politics as usual,” judges in Philadelphia federal court ruled on Jan. 10 when declining to hear a lawsuit alleging extreme partisan gerrymandering created unconstitutional Pennsylvania congressional districts.

We need the judicial and legislative branches to develop much needed electoral map limits. Our highest courts and most thoughtful legislators are now focusing attention on the serious problem of gerrymandering. The U.S. Supreme Court will review two cases this term. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court began a review of a case on Wed., Jan. 17, claiming gerrymandering violates the state constitution.

We’re rightly questioning if the fact that politics has always been a no-holds-barred, unethical business is a good enough reason to continue to allow constitutional rights to be violated and the votes of many Americans to be intentionally wasted. The extreme degree to which several Pennsylvania districts are gerrymandered, the threat of even more extreme maps in 2021, and the disinclination of party bosses to police partisan redistricting urgently requires bipartisan action by legislators.

FairDistrictsPA proposed a state constitutional amendment enabling development of redistricting maps by a committee of independent Pennsylvania citizens without direct party connections.  This transparent mapmaking process, with neither party controlling the redistricting, will enable the creation of the compact, contiguous electoral districts required by the Pennsylvania Constitution. Bipartisan bills — SB22 and HB722 — would accomplish this lengthy amendment process.

At least one of these bills must pass by July 2018 for the committee to be in place for the 2021 Congressional district mapmaking. Concerned elected officials in many cities and townships have already passed resolutions in support of nonpartisan redistricting.  These bills and their supporting legislators deserve our support.

Kathy Meehan
Chadds Ford Township
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