- Voters in a Pennsylvania House district have nicknamed the shape of their congressional boundary “Goofy kicking Donald Duck.”
- The state’s district maps, including the strangely shaped 7th district, were ruled unconstitutional by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court earlier this week.
- The court ruled the maps gave Republicans an unfair advantage.
The state legislature has until February 9 to submit new map proposals to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf for approval. Current congressional maps in the state overwhelmingly favour Republicans.
One district in particular is so lopsided that voters nicknamed it “Goofy Kicking Donald Duck,” since its shape resembles the Disney characters Goofy giving Donald the boot.
“The Seventh District has become a national joke,” Beth Lawn, one of the district’s residents, told The New York Times.
The Republican-led state legislature drew the lines for the 7th District, along with Pennsylvania’s 17 other districts, in 2011 based on the 2010 US census.
Though partisan gerrymandering is a common practice by both Democrats and Republicans, the GOP has had considerable success skewing district lines in its favour since the party’s wave of electoral victories in the 2010 mid-terms. In many states, the majority party has the power to draw congressional boundaries.
But this could soon change as state and federal judges crack down on extreme cases.
Pennsylvania’s 7th is one example of a district under fire for what critics say is its illogical shape, but district maps in states like Wisconsin and North Carolina are on the chopping block as well.
Earlier this month, a federal judge ruled North Carolina’s congressional map unconstitutional and “motivated by invidious partisan intent,” The New York Times reported. The court had ruled earlier that Republicans in the state discriminated against black voters by isolating them in extremely gerrymandered districts, effectively diminishing their voting power and making it easier for Republicans to win House elections.
“Today’s ruling sends a stark message to legislatures and governors around the country: Racial gerrymandering is illegal and will be struck down in a court of law,” former Attorney General Eric Holder said at the time.
The Supreme Court is also considering a redistricting case from Wisconsin and another one from Maryland.
Republican Congressman Pat Meehan currently represents Pennyslvania’s 7th District. Last week, it was revealed that Meehan used taxpayer money to settle a misconduct complaint after a former staffer accused him of making repeated unwanted romantic advances. He will not seek reelection this year.
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