Episode 44: Let’s sue the court

In a little bit of a departure, this show was recorded live as an episode of Smart Talk, WITF’s morning radio show, on Thursday, February 23. We’re cross-posting because it covers all the important redistricting news we would have discussed on the podcast anyway, and who wants to be redundant?

WITF’s Scott LaMar, Emily Previti, and Katie Meyer (plus Common Cause PA’s Micah Sims) discuss the congressional map the state Supreme Court drew this week, and the subsequent fallout from Republicans.

We’ll talk you through the many political ramifications of the court’s new map, and the legal intricacies of various plans to try and stop it from being implemented.

Just a note, the episode was recorded before the Senate GOP filed a second lawsuit against the court, so you’ll only hear us talking about one. But you can catch up on the most recent details here.


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Episode 43: What does ‘fair’ even mean?

It’s been almost a month since the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared the commonwealth’s 2011 congressional map an unconstitutional Republican gerrymander and ordered lawmakers to redraw it in time for the 2018 election.

And as the February 19 deadline approaches for the justices to select a replacement, the contentious saga might be coming to an end.

Or not.

Probably not.

Lawmakers ended up not being able to compromise on new districts, which led to House and Senate Republicans, House Democrats, Senate Democrats, Governor Tom Wolf, Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack, and others all submitting totally separate proposals to the court.

The court might pick one of those, or modify one to fit its (sort of vague) criteria for fairness. Or it might draw its own.

If that latter option happens, GOP leaders have promised to sue in federal court.

The PLS Reporter’s Jason Gottesman stops by to discuss the various ways this might all play out, and to explain why everything about this case seems so frustratingly subjective.


Episode 42: Making it up as they go along

By the time you listen to this podcast, there’s a good chance that things will look a bit different.

All week, we’ve been waiting to see what the state legislature will do to respond to the state Supreme Court’s declaration that Pennsylvania’s congressional maps are unconstitutional, and justices’ subsequent order for lawmakers to redraw them by February 15.

The deadline for the General Assembly was even tighter; they had to submit new maps to Governor Tom Wolf by February 9 (the day we recorded this podcast).

As of the recording, we knew only that the legislature would not have time to vote on the new map, so its presiding officers—House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati—planned to collaborate on their own maps and submit those to the governor, without a vote.

PennLive’s Wallace McKelvey and Liz Navratil of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Philly Inquirer join us to discuss all the potential outcomes, and the political, legal, and practical implications of this strange situation.

Episode 41: More fights about redistricting

Yes, this is the third podcast in a row that has focused on the fallout from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declaring the state’s congressional maps unconstitutional. And yes, we still have a lot more to say about it.

This week saw more volleys back and forth between legislative republicans and the court, and perhaps most importantly, resulted in the Senate GOP refusing to hand over documents the court ordered from them, arguing that the court is undermining the legislature’s authority.

Perhaps it’s obvious, but when one branch of government stops respecting the authority of another, it’s possible there could be real harm done to that government’s ability to function.

Capitolwire Bureau Chief and columnist Chris Comisac joins us to give a conservative perspective on what’s going on, and helps pick through the implications and potential outcomes of this thorny situation.

Just a note, this podcast was recorded before we got word that the legislature is calling for Justice David Wecht to be disqualified (they’re arguing he has previously expressed strong opinions about gerrymandering, which should mean he can’t rule in this case). If you’re interested in learning more about that, check WITF’s news feed for more coverage.