Escalating their fight over the Pennsylvania congressional map imposed by the state Supreme Court, Republicans are preparing at least two separate legal challenges in federal court seeking to block the new district boundaries.
Top Republican state lawmakers were continuing to work Tuesday on the challenge they had promised even before the court acted Monday, and Republicans on the national level said they were planning a second lawsuit. The suits could be filed as early as Wednesday.
"The suit will highlight the state Supreme Court's rushed decision that created chaos, confusion, and unnecessary expense in the 2018 election cycle," National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Matt Gorman said in a statement Tuesday morning. He said state lawmakers also would join in that suit, which could be filed "as soon as tomorrow to prevent the new partisan map from taking effect."
If one of the challenges should succeed, voters and candidates — already confused and scrambling to understand new political boundaries — could be left in limbo weeks before the first ballots are to be cast in the primary election in May. Experts, however, said the challenges would face daunting odds.
News of the second lawsuit came soon after President Trump tweeted encouragement to Republicans, saying he hoped they would fight the map "all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary."
House Speaker Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) said the challenge that he and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R., Jefferson) were preparing would focus on "jurisdiction issues."
"It is virtually unheard of for a state Supreme Court to invalidate federal laws on the basis of the state Constitution," Turzai said in a meeting with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's editorial board, repeating an argument that he and Scarnati have made for weeks: The U.S. Constitution delegates map-making responsibilities to state legislatures, meaning the court is overstepping its bounds.
The state high court also drew the map on principles not explicitly laid out in the state constitution, he said, calling it "judicial lawmaking at its worst."
Lawyers for the plaintiffs who brought the case that resulted in the new map urged Republicans to stop fighting.
"Pennsylvania's Republican leaders do not know when to quit. Any attempts by them to run to federal court again to stop the new map are without any legal or factual basis," they said in a statement. The new map, they said, is nonpartisan and has more competitive districts. "We hope they have the sense to admit their map has reached its end and stop holding onto their partisan gerrymander."
The renewed vows of court challenges came a day after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court imposed a new congressional map to replace one it had declared an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.