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Trump 'Blatantly Backs Gerrymandering' in Call for GOP to Fight New Pennsylvania Maps

"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."

"Gerrymandering has no value in our democracy," said Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers' Committee on Civil and Human Rights. (Photo: Janai Nelson/Twitter)

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."

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."

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."

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