Shortly after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday issued a new congressional map that eliminates the state GOP's partisan gerrymander, President Donald Trump implored Republicans to challenge the new district lines, arguing that the original map—which the state's highest court said "clearly" violates the constitution—"was correct."
Hope Republicans in the Great State of Pennsylvania challenge the new “pushed” Congressional Map, all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary. Your Original was correct! Don’t let the Dems take elections away from you so that they can raise taxes & waste money!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2018
Many commentators were quick to observe that Trump's tweet effectively undercuts the Pennsylvania GOP's argument that their maps were not drawn to gain partisan advantage.
"'Don't let the Dems take elections away from you' is the sort of thing I would advise my client not to say if I were a Republican election attorney arguing that gerrymanders aren't unconstitutional efforts to rig elections," wrote Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress.
"The president knows that ending extreme gerrymandering takes away anti-democratic advantages that Republicans need to remain competitive."
—John Nichols, The Nation
The president also either isn't aware of, or doesn't care about, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to reject Pennsylvania Republicans' attempt to restore their gerrymandered map earlier this month.
In response to Trump's tweet on Tuesday, the advocacy group Common Cause wrote: "It's not surprising that the most unethical president in American history would support partisan gerrymandering that erodes everyday people's choice, voice, and vote. That's why we are building a democracy movement that is stronger than Donald Trump."
Other commentators weighed in on Trump's expressed support for "election-rigging that distorts democracy."
Donald Trump comes out and blatantly backs gerrymandering — a form of election rigging that distorts democracy. Here’s why gerrymandering and uncompetitive districting poses a grave threat to democracy: https://t.co/8VZS3UDo4H https://t.co/MDPuOz8c5k
— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) February 20, 2018
So you're saying you prefer rigged elections, eh? https://t.co/L2V0a0uMSr
— Zack Ford (@ZackFord) February 20, 2018
Trump is a desperate man, telling Pennsylvania Republicans to challenge a map that’s actually better for them than they might have expected. The president knows that ending extreme gerrymandering takes away anti-democratic advantages that Republicans need to remain competitive. https://t.co/Saiy9f3gdo
— John Nichols (@NicholsUprising) February 20, 2018
Despite their previous failures, Pennsylvania Republicans are expected to challenge the new maps issued by the state Supreme Court, a move that Nick Lyell of ReThink Media said shows they are perfectly willing to put "their partisan political interests above the constitution."
"At stake in Pennsylvania right now is not just partisan outcomes in new election maps, but whether or not a state legislature chooses to abide by constitutional principles like checks and balances, and acknowledge the proper role of the judiciary," Lyell added.
If the new maps stand, analysts predict the Republican Party's advantage in Pennsylvania—which was gained in large part due to illegal partisan gerrymandering—could quickly erode.
"Overall, a half-dozen competitive Republican-held congressional districts move to the left, endangering several incumbent Republicans, one of whom may now be all but doomed to defeat, and improving Democratic standing in two open races," observed Nate Cohn, Matthew Bloch, and Kevin Quealy of the New York Times. "Based on recent election results, the new congressional map comes very close to achieving partisan balance."