Election Law

Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati/Twitter

Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati informed the Pennsylvania Supreme Court he won’t comply with a court order to provide voter records and mapmaking material in a partisan gerrymandering case.

The Republican lawmaker said he would defy the order in a letter to the court written by Blank Rome lawyer Brian Paszamant, report the Allentown Morning Call, Slate and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Think Progress calls the refusal “an audacious move by a political leader who could potentially be held in contempt of court.”

The letter says the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overstepped when it held the congressional district map “violated some unidentified aspect of the Pennsylvania Constitution.” The court decision usurps state lawmakers’ authority to draw the map, and Scarnati won’t turn over any requested data, the letter says.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled on Jan. 22 that the district map benefiting Republicans violates the state constitution, and it may not be used in the May 15 primary. The court ordered the state general assembly to submit a new map to the governor, who has until Feb. 15 to submit the plan to the court if he agrees with it. If no plan is submitted, the court said it will adopt a plan.

The letter says the Pennsylvania decision violates the U.S. Constitution’s elections clause, which generally gives state legislatures exclusive authority regarding the time, place and manner of congressional elections

Pennsylvania legislative leaders have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision. Justice Samuel A. Alito asked for a response by Friday from the Pennsylvania League of Women Voters, which had challenged the legislative map, GoErie.com reports.