Shortly thereafter, the United States Supreme Court denied Republicans' request for a stay. “The application for stay presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the court is denied,” the high court ruled. The new map will now go into effect for the 2018 midterm elections.
Democratic Governor Tom Wolf applauded the decision, saying in a statement: "The people of Pennsylvania are tired of gerrymandering and the new map corrects past mistakes that created unfair Congressional Districts and attempted to diminish the impact of citizens’ votes."
The panel of federal judges, in their released opinion, determined that they had no authority to step in and therefore decided to toss it.
“Because fundamental principles of constitutional standing and judicial restraint prohibit us from exercising jurisdiction, we have no authority to take any action other than to dismiss the Plaintiffs’ verified complaint,” the opinion reads.
The challenge was filed by Jacob Corman, Republican Majority Leader in the Pennsylvania Senate and includes plaintiffs Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA), and Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA).
The judges and the Supreme Court released this decision with just a day left before congressional candidates in Pennsylvania have to formally circulate petitions to get on to the ballot for these newly proposed districts in advance of a May primary.
As the opinion laid out, Pennsylvania’s General Assembly had until February 9 to submit a new map to Wolf. The governor rejected it saying that it maintained similar partisan gerrymandering to a 2011 map. Subsequently, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court proposed their own new districts, which divided the state into eight Hillary Clinton-won districts and ten Donald Trump-won districts. The president won Pennsylvania by less than a point in 2016.
It also has immediate ramifications for Congressman-elect Conor Lamb, a Democrat who narrowly won in a special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th district last week. Under the new map, this district will cease to exist in its current form and Lamb, as well as his opponent State Rep. Rick Saccone, are reportedly in the process of gathering petitions in new districts, both of which are more favorable for their respective parties.