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Federal judges to hear state district map challenge

HARRISBURG, Pa.—A panel of three Republican-appointed federal judges will weigh a request by eight GOP congressman to stop the use of a new congressional district map in this year’s elections.

The panel was set up Friday by a federal judge under a federal law governing constitutional challenges to congressional reapportionment.

The members on that panel are Judge Christopher Conner, Judge Jerome Simandle and Judge Kent Jordan.

Both Judge Conner and Judge Jordan were selected for the federal bench by President George W. Bush. Judge Simandle was chosen by President George H. W. Bush.

The new congressional map was drawn by the state Supreme Court. The commonwealth’s Supreme Court declared the congressional map an unconstitutional republican gerrymander about a month ago. After lawmakers didn’t meet the court’s short deadline to fix it, justices redrew the map themselves–giving Democrats stronger representation.

The 2011 map is widely considered among the nation’s most gerrymandered.

The plaintiffs include seven Republican members of Congress who are expected to seek re-election: Reps. Ryan Costello, Mike Kelly, Tom Marino, Scott Perry, Keith Rothfus, Lloyd Smucker and Glenn Thompson; as well as U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, running for U.S. Senate; state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman; and state Sen. Mike Folmer, chair of the State Government Committee.