PA Supremes implode political landscape, leave town

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court dropped a bombshell on the state political landscape on Wednesday.

Then, like the actors in part one of a two-part Hallmark channel drama, they left town - at least some did - while leaving the population hanging and the maps in limbo.

In their split decision late Wednesday, the seven-member court tossed the newly-drafted state legislative distict maps and sent it back to the commission that made them.

Their 4-3 order said a full decision would followm but did not say when.

The order came as three members of the court may well have been winging it to sunny San Juan, Puerto Rico for the $1,600 -a- head Pennsylvania Bar Association mid- year meeting.

Scheduled to attend the four-day conference are Chief Justice Ron Castille, the former Republican District Attorney of Philadelphia, and Max Baer, a Democrat, (who joined Democrats Deborah McCloskey Todd and Seamus McCaffery in rejecting the plan), along with Justice Michael Eakin (who was joined Justice Joan Orie Melvin and Thomas Saylor in the dissent)

The three are panelists at the conference.

Now - with the state in a state of political shock and upheaval - some people are wondering just when the full order will come down so that lawmakers and mapmakers and the citizenry have some direction moving into a general election year with an April 24 primary.

Will they be drafting on the plane? Editing between tours of the Bacardi distillery and the golf outing?

The absence of a full opinion comes as chaos no doubt broke out at GOP and Democratic party political headquarters with candidates just beginning to circulate nominating petitions based on the new maps now wondering what to do next.

Most of the 11 groups and individuals challenging the maps for 50 Senate seats and 203 House seats argued that the new districts were unconstitutional because they split too many muncipalities - among them Upper Darby, Swarthmore and Haverford - The new maps, craftd by Republicans, were ostensibly drawn to reflect population changes with the 2010 census, but Democrats argue their bizarre shapes were designed to protect incumbants.

Among other changes elsewhere in the state, the House map chops up Upper Darby and lifts the northeast Philadelphia seat of retiring House Rep.-now Philadelphia Councilman - Dennis O'Brien and moves it to fast growing York County.

More on the order from the Inquirer here.

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