Pennsylvania Lawmaker Hopes to Impeach Justices Who Rejected Gerrymandered Map

How could anyone take issue with the straightforward layout of the Seventh Congressional District of Pennsylvania? Illustration: OpenStreetsMap via Fair Districts PA

Someone has been giving Republicans ideas about doing away with courts that don’t rule in their favor. On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request to stay a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that requires the GOP-controlled legislature to redraw the state’s gerrymandered congressional districts before the next election. One Republican state lawmaker responded by starting a push to impeach the five Democratic state justices who found the map in violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

State Representative Cris Dush sent a memo to all members of the House seeking co-sponsors for an impeachment bill. In a speech to the chamber, he argued that the justices had “blatantly and clearly” contradicted the state constitution, and should thus be removed by the legislature.

“This is a usurpation of the sovereign power of the legislature under the Pennsylvania Constitution,” he said. “In the Constitution, it’s a contract between the people and the government that they hired to oversee them. And the sovereigns in this issue are God, the people, and the legislature — in that order.”

Under the Pennsylvania Constitution, state officials can be removed with the agreement of two-thirds of senators and a majority of the state representatives, according to ThinkProgress. Republicans control both chambers, though the state has a Democratic governor and President Trump won it by less than one percentage point. (The recent court decision was about the state’s congressional maps, not the state legislative districts.)

Republicans hold 13 of the state’s 18 congressional seats, and redrawing the map could help the Democrats’ effort to retake the U.S. House of Representatives in November.

Whether any Republicans will join Dush’s effort remains to be seen. GOP leaders told the Philadelphia Inquirer that they hadn’t discussed it yet. While they may not be willing to go as far as Dush, the legislature’s top two Republicans signaled on Monday that they may not be willing to accept the court’s decision. In a joint statement, Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati and House Speaker Mike Turzai said they would try to comply with the court’s order to redraw the maps by Friday, “but may be compelled to pursue further legal action in federal court.”

PA Lawmaker Hopes to Impeach Justices Who Nixed Gerrymander