JANUARY 2018 – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court found the state’s congressional district maps are a partisan gerrymander in a case in which Kendall Brill & Kelly LLP attorneys helped author an amicus brief that challenged the constitutionality of the partisan redistricting. Nicholas F. Daum, of counsel at Kendall Brill & Kelly, and Laura W. Brill, KBK co-founding partner, together with lawyers from the Brennan Center of Justice and Bazelon, Less & Feldman PC authored the brief on behalf of the Brennan Center in League of Women Voters v. Pennsylvania General Assembly.
Pennsylvania’s high court found that the state’s congressional redistricting “clearly, plainly and palpably” violates the state’s Constitution. It banned the current map of the state’s 18 House districts from being used in this year’s primary and general elections, and ordered a new map be submitted to the court by Feb. 15. The ruling came as the U.S. Supreme Court is also simultaneously considering the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering under the federal constitution in the case of Gill v. Whitford, which concerns Wisconsin’s state legislative maps. KBK and Ms. Brill also participated in preparing an amicus brief in Gill, on behalf of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
“While Pennsylvania is a swing state, whose voters prefer the two major political parties roughly equally, the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania General Assembly carefully manipulated Congressional district lines to ensure an overwhelming advantage for the GOP in all election cycles, an advantage so enduring that it would require an unprecedented wave election to overturn,” Daum said. “That is unconstitutional and violates the fundamental principles that in a democracy elected officials should represent the preferences of the voters, and laws should not discriminate on the basis of partisan affiliation. As we pointed out in the amicus brief, the Brennan Center has shown that courts have both qualitative and quantitative tools that can easily identify extreme, unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders and differentiate them from permissible uses of politics in redistricting.”