HARRISBURG, Pa. - Governor Tom Wolf Tuesday rejected the proposed Congressional district map submitted by Republican leaders in the General Assembly, two days before a court-mandated deadline to submit an approved map to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Wolf said he consulted with multiple analysts over the weekend, who told him that the new map submitted Friday evening did not ease concerns of gerrymandering in favor of Republicans.
"Those analyses showed that it was still gerrymandered to give partisan advantage, so the Governor did not feel that it was worthy of his approval," Wolf's press secretary, J.J. Abbott, said.
That leaves the General Assembly with less than 48 hours to agree with Gov. Wolf on a new Congressional district map.
If no agreement is reached, that means the parties to the lawsuit that resulted in the State Supreme Court's order to draw a new map could submit their own maps to the court for their consideration. The court also has Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford University law professor with expertise in drawing Congressional district maps, on stand-by to assist with the creation of new Congressional districts.
"Should that deadline go by without a map enacted by the General Assembly, the Governor will assess his options as a party to the case, whether or not he takes any further action," Abbott said.
Republican leaders in the Senate and House blasted the decision. House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati wrote a scathing response to the governor, calling his reasoning "absurd" and saying that it "sets forth a nonsensical approach to governance."
"If the Governor decides to allow the State Supreme Court to draw the maps, we believe we have a serious Constitutional crisis that will end up at the United States Supreme Court," said Matt Brouillette, president of Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs, who has been observing the developments at the Capitol.
The Republican leadership called on the Wolf administration to submit its own map to see if consensus can be reached before the Thursday deadline. They have argued that if the Pennsylvania Supreme Court becomes involved in drawing the maps, that will be enough to trigger a lawsuit to compel the justices to stop.
"I don't think they ever intended to have something done by Thursday," said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R - Centre). "I think this has all been designed for the Court to draw their own map, so it's unfortunate, and if that's the case, we'll see them in federal court."
Court justices maintained that the deadline is necessary in order to have the new map ready for the primary election in May.