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Civil Rights Advocates Oppose Petition to Redraw State Legislative Maps 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

PRESS RELEASE 

March 18,  2022

Press contacts: 
Carolina González | Senior Director of Strategic Communication| [email protected] |  212-739-7513

Sarai Bejarano | Manager of Traditional & Digital Media | sbejar[email protected] | 212-739-7581

 

Civil Rights Advocates Oppose Petition to Redraw State Legislative Maps 
Groups Ask PA State Supreme Court to Deny House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff Petition to Reject New Maps  
 

Harrisburg, PA – Voting rights advocates LatinoJustice PRLDEF and Make the Road Pennsylvania filed an amicus brief on March 18 in State Supreme Court opposing a petition to set aside new maps for the state’s legislative districts. 

The brief responded to a petition to the high court from PA House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff filed last month that challenged the new state redistricting maps based on 2020 Census data. The groups’ brief asked the court to follow federal and state principles that aim to protect the rights of racial and ethnic minorities to have equal access to the vote as the state goes through the redistricting process. 

In opposition to Rep. Benninghoff’s claim that considering race in the redistricting process violates State constitutional provisions, the 14th amendment and the Voting Rights Act, the amicus brief argues for the critical importance of following existing protections and requirements afforded to non-white communities under these laws, especially given the tremendous growth of the Latino community in the state – 46% between the 2010 and 2020 Censuses. 

“With the extensive growth of the Latino population in the last decade, it’s only fair that we demand a redistricting process that grants greater electoral power to our expanding community,” said Fulvia Vargas-De Leon, Associate Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “For far too long, the redistricting process has served as a silent vote suppressor, creating maps that effectively dilute or disenfranchise the Latino vote for a decade at a time. The Latino electorate has a right to demand meaningful opportunities to participate in the electoral process.” 

The brief also asked the PA Supreme Court to reject the petition’s support for prison gerrymandering – a discriminatory practice that artificially inflates the populations in districts that house prisons by counting individuals incarcerated in the district who cannot vote in that district. This practice often dilutes the electoral power of Latino and Black communities.  

“The suppression and dilution of Black and Brown voices in the political process is older than our right to vote,” said Diana Robinson, Director of Civic Engagement for Make the Road Pennsylvania. “For hundreds of years, district lines have been drawn to minimize the political power of historically marginalized communities and unfairly influence elections, a practice now prohibited by federal and state law. Acknowledging communities' racial makeup in the redistricting process is key to repairing decades of discrimination and ensuring fair elections where everyone can exercise their right to vote and every community can elect the candidates of their choice."  

  

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LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education. For five decades, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout the country. To learn more, visit www.LatinoJustice.org    

 

Make the Road Pennsylvania (MRPA) builds power for justice in Latinx, immigrant, and working-class communities of color. Make the Road Pennsylvania believes in a transformational theory of change that seeks to empower community members to be the principal agents and leaders in challenging and dismantling systemic oppression through community organizing policy innovation, transformative education, civic engagement, and advocacy. Since its founding in 2014 in Reading Pennsylvania its membership base has grown to 10,000 people across Allentown, Reading, and Philadelphia. Make the Road Pennsylvania’s advocacy efforts reflect a strong track record of local and state campaigns, mobilizations on federal issues, large-scale civic engagement work, and active leadership among key progressive coalitions, and tables across the state.