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Supreme Court turns away Pennsylvania Republican’s complaints over electoral map

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rebuffed a bid by Republican legislators in Pennsylvania to reinstate a congressional district map struck down by that state’s top court as unlawfully biased in favor of Republicans.

A new state electoral map, devised by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court after it invalidated the Republican-drawn districts in January, is seen as giving Democrats a better shot at gaining seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in the Nov. 6 congressional elections in which President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans are seeking to retain control of Congress.

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The case involves a practice called partisan gerrymandering in which electoral maps are drafted in a manner that helps one party tighten its grip on power by undermining the clout of voters that tend to favor the other party. The high court in June failed to determine whether partisan gerrymandering violates the U.S. Constitution after hearing high-profile cases from Wisconsin and Maryland.

The justices on Monday rejected the Republican appeal of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling throwing out the previous Republican-drawn map because it violated the state constitution’s requirement that elections be “free and equal” by marginalizing Democratic voters.

The high court previously rejected two Republican requests to block the new district boundaries that the state high court issued to replace the old map, which had been in effect since 2011. Republicans have held 13 of the state’s 18 U.S. House seats since 2011 despite Pennsylvania being a closely divided bellwether state.

A group of 18 Democratic voters sued in Pennsylvania last year to challenge the Republican-drawn maps. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the 2011 map and later adopted the new map in time for use during the party nominating contests in May.

The state’s Republican legislative leaders urged the justices to intervene and overturn the ruling by the state court, which they accused of usurping the legislature’s authority over redistricting. The Democratic voter challengers told the justices it is long-settled law that the U.S. Supreme Court cannot review a state court’s interpretation of state law.

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State and federal legislative district boundaries are reconfigured after the U.S. government conducts a census every decade. Partisan gerrymandering has been used for two centuries but has become more extreme with the use of computer programs to maximize its effects in a way that critics have said warps democracy.

The Supreme Court in the past has disallowed gerrymandering intended to discriminate against racial minorities but has not curbed partisan gerrymandering.

Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham

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2020 Election

The truth about Bernie Sanders’ medical records: They’re encouraging — but a key detail is missing

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When Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) landed in the hospital at the beginning of October 2019 after suffering a heart attack, it became guaranteed that his health would be an issue in the 2020 Democratic primary. The 78-year-old is known for his passionate rallies and reveling in the rigors of the campaign, but a candidate's health condition can change the course of an election, and a serious medical crisis like a heart attack puts into question his ability to do the job.

To help allay these concerns, Sanders assured voters that he would release "comprehensive" medical records. But he hasn't, and now it seems he doesn't plan on doing it. Instead, he released three letters in December from doctors describing his health positively and vouching for his ability to handle the campaign trail and potentially, the presidency.

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2020 Election

How the question of who killed JFK emerged in an unexpected way on the 2020 campaign trail

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On Monday night in Fairfax, Virginia, Donald Jeffries, author and talk radio host, asked Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard about a book she was seen carrying, “JFK and the Unspeakable.” Published in 2008, the book is a Catholic philosopher’s meditation about the assassination of liberal president John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, one of the great historical crimes of American politics.

Gabbard replied she had not finished the book, but “from what I have read, it… speaks to what happened [on November 22] in a way that I haven’t seen anywhere else.”

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Trump whines about losing the Time ‘Man of the Year’ award he lost to a teenage girl

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President Donald Trump goaded his audience into booing a teenager during a campaign rally in Colorado Springs on Thursday.

Trump said, "I got beaten up by Greta" -- in reference to Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg, who recently celebrated her 17th birthday.

The leader of the free world went on to complain about Thunberg being declared TIME magazine's "Person of the Year" award in 2019.

He said that many women wish it was still "Man of the Year" and suggested separate categories by gender, which would prevent him from competing against European teenage girls.

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