Speaker asks federal court to intervene in reapportionment

State House Speaker Sam Smith is asking a federal court to prevent the use of district boundaries drawn in 2001 for state House and Senate seats being used in this year's election.  Smith, in a lawsuit filed against the Pennsylvania Secretary of State, says using the old boundaries would "violate the voting rights of Pennsylvania citizens" because they are based on the 2000 census and populations in the districts have shifted since then.

Smith is on the hot seat here because, as speaker, he must call special elections for six state House seats that are vacant.  Three of them are in Philadelphia. The 169th District House seat in Northeast Philly and the 186th District House seat in South Philly became vacant this week when Denny O'Brien and Kenyatta Johnson became a City Council members.  The 197th District House seat opened up when Jewell Williams became Philadelphia Sheriff.

The state Supreme Court last week tossed out the Legislative Reapportionment Commission's plan to redraw district lines based on the 2010 Census.  That has lead to speculation, fired by Supreme Court Justice Max Baer's comments last week to Capitolwire, that the 2001 lines will be used this year.

That would keep the 169th District in Northeast Philly for now.  The commission's plan called for that district to be moved to York County.

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