Pennsylvania Congressional Redraw


6 years ago today, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared the State Senate and House districts were unconstitutional based on the evidence presented in my case. Just 2 days ago, this same court declared another legislative map unconstitutional — the map configuring congressional districts.

The court order gives the main point of their decision: Section 16 of the Pennsylvania Constitution (which protects county, municipal, and ward boundaries when forming districts) also applies to congressional districts.

What would it look like if a congressional map did not divide any municipalities? I asked myself this question and came up with the following answer.

These districts would afford equal representation through impartially drawn districts, unlike the ones currently in place.


The alternative map has the following constitutional advantages:

  • Respect for county, municipal, and ward boundaries
    • 0 municipalities divided (other than Philly, which is larger than a congressional district)
    • 3 wards (all in Philly) are divided while still respecting minorities
    • 16 of the 67 counties are divided
    • 21 total splits
  • Virtually the same population in each district!
    • Ideal district size: 705,678
    • Overall Deviation: 125 people or 0.0177% (difference between the largest and smallest district)

As the state continues to fight this, will the revised maps show any improvement? Or will Pennsylvania once again be left in a position which permits absurdity in the pursuit of equality?

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Amanda began delving into the subject of redistricting in October of 2010 on her quest to know why. Helped by a love of puzzles, attention to detail, and a great deal of persistence, her efforts eventually led her to a historic victory before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. She documents her journey at, inspiring others through numerous presentations across the state. The recipient of several honors, her work has also been featured in every major Pennsylvania newspaper, making headline news in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.


  1. Hi Amanda. Your map would be a huge step forward, and it seems to meet the Court’s specifications. One suggestion: shift the eastern Pittsburgh suburbs to PA12 and/or PA18, and replenish PA14 with precincts to the west and north of the city. Although your handling of Allegheny County passes the eyeball test, it accidentally maintains the “packing” of Democratic votes into PA14. I can send a .DRF file if you are interested in examining options in DRA.
    I’m not sure of the right way to handle Philadelphia. Your work on minority-majority districts has helped me immeasurably in understanding the VRA issues affecting PA01 and – especially – PA02. As a practical matter, though, does Dwight Evans really need a 75-point margin of victory? Those votes would carry a lot more weight in PA08 or PA13.

    • Thank you for your kind words. So glad you found some of the information helpful! The map certainly does not address every concern being expressed about the current map. I will post a revised map shortly which districts Allegheny County differently (I am redrawing it for greater equality). It might look more like you described.

      • Thanks Amanda. I look forward to seeing your next version, and hope Justice Alito won’t render the whole discussion moot next week.

  2. One additional note: If shifted to the northwest as proposed above, PA14 would probably absorb Rep. Rothfus’s home. Although protecting incumbents has been recognized by state and federal courts as a valid redistricting criterion, Mr. Rothfus would be an interesting case. First, the PA Court’s per curiam order did not mention preference for incumbents at all – just contiguity, compactness, and integrity of counties and other jurisdictions. Second, even if the Court’s silence on the subject implies that incumbent protection in general stand, Rep. Rothfus may have a weak claim because he owes his seat to a redistricting plan that:
    a) has already been declared void; and
    b) successfully targeted two Democratic incumbents by merging them into a district neither was likely to win.

    We live in interesting times.

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