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U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Pennsylvania's legislative redistricting

A color-coded map showing Pennsylvania's legislative districts
Dave's Redistricting
This map shows the borders of Pennsylvania's seats in the state House of Representatives. The legislative map follows a redistricting process that included court challenges.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued an order Monday declining to hear a case challenging the validity of Pennsylvania's state legislative districts and how they were drawn, a week before elections to the state House and Senate will use the new district lines.

Legislative maps are redrawn every 10 years, after the U.S. Census. In February 2022, Pennsylvania’s Legislative Reapportionment Commission voted 4-1 to approve the new maps, with House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff casting the lone no vote.

A Centre County Republican, Benninghoff appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, but lost, before petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court. His petition argued race was used improperly to create the maps. The commission had created "opportunity districts" it said could help elect minority candidates.

But Benninghoff said he thinks the redistricting actually lessens the opportunity for some minority communities in elections.

“It really, in my opinion, disenfranchises a lot of the minority voters," Benninghoff said in an interview. "If you look in any of the areas that predominantly had a lot of Hispanic populations, every one of them was reduced in their population base and squeezed out into neighboring districts, which, to me, really diminishes the opportunity for some of the minority communities to try to ever get a candidate elected in the primary process. And I just think that’s wrong.”

While Benninghoff said he was frustrated with the process, Mark Nordenberg, chairman of the Reapportionment Commission, said the team was “gratified” by the Supreme Court’s decision to deny the petition.

"We view this decision as a further validation of our committed efforts to ensure that the plan we adopted fully complied with the requirements of both state and federal law," Nordenberg said in a statement. "This action of our nation's highest Court also can be seen as a validation of both the 4 to 1 bipartisan vote within the Commission itself to adopt the plan and the unanimous decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upholding it."

Anne Danahy is a reporter at WPSU. She was a reporter for nearly 12 years at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, where she earned a number of awards for her coverage of issues including the impact of natural gas development on communities.