Where does Pennsylvania Draw the Line

Posted by By at 12 May, at 11 : 29 AM Print

Pennsylvania’s Legislative Reapportionment Commission met for the first time on Wednesday, and normally this would have registered a tad above “ho-hum,” but not this time.

Not with Judge Stephen J. McEwen Jr. chairing the body that is charged with redrawing the political landscape for 253 legislative districts. A process that is carried out every decade to even out districts with the fluctuation in population.

A few weeks ago, Rock the Capital and Democracy Rising in a joint investigation found that McEwen, A Superior Court Judge continues to serve on the bench illegally. McEwen turned 78 last October, which, by the Supreme Court’s own rules makes him too old to preside.

What does that have to do with the Reapportionment Commission? McEwen was appointed chairman, after caucus members could not find common ground on appointing a member of the public to the five-member commission.

Eric Epstein, one of the founders of Rock The Capital told the PA Independent, “Here’s a guy who hasn’t even stood for election.” That as the commission begins its work of mapping out new lines for 203 House, and 50 Senate Districts.

“He was appointed to the bench, and the bench appointed him to the commission. He’s not in (a) position to lecture people on constitutionality,” said Epstein.

During the first meeting, McEwen said the panel would do its best to achieve the “maxim for electoral equality – one man, one vote. A genuine sense of fairness will be the hallmark of this commission.”

Judge McEwen is not talking about his age or continuing to serve on the bench. His secretary referred RTC to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. Lets just say the AOPC is not in a hurry to release information.

The Reapportionment Commission is on a set schedule aiming to have a redrawn map ready for public inspection by September.

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