Latinos Ask Court to Limit 2012 Term and Order Special State Elections in 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 2, 2012
CONTACT: John Garcia, Director of Communications, 212-739-7513, 917-673-9095 or jgarcia@latinojustice.org.

According to legal papers filed with the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by several Pennsylvania Latino residents in Garcia v. 2001 Legislative Reapportionment Commission et. al, state legislators to be elected in 2012 should serve a limited one year term and be forced to run again in 2013 because the state is using outdated district lines promulgated by the Commonwealth’s 2001 Legislative Reapportionment Plan.

Plaintiffs Joe Garcia, Fernando Quiles, both residents of Philadelphia, and Dalia Rivera Matias of Allentown request the court to order a 2013 special election to remedy the unconstitutional effects of the upcoming 2012 election cycle proceeding based on Pennsylvania’s 2001 Plan in violation of the One Person, One Vote doctrine of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In the court papers filed this past Friday, plaintiffs’ lawyers, LatinoJustice PRLDEF and Jose Luis Ongay, Esq. of Philadelphia , explain that under the present 2001 redistricting scheme, recent Latino population growth within Philadelphia, Berks and Lehigh counties has not been recognized, effectively diluting the Latino vote while disproportionately strengthening that of other communities within the state. In fact, applying 2001 district lines in 2012 results in a 29.4% total population deviation within the State Senate and 42.8% for the State House, well in excess of the 10% required to establish a prima facie violation of the One Person, One Vote doctrine of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers, further maintain that case law supports their request for a shortened term and a special election given that no plausible state based policy concern or objective resulted in the use of the 2001 plan in the 2012 elections. Instead, this situation arose out of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court invalidating the first 2011 Final Reapportionment Plan and resulting time constraints in instituting an alternative 2011 redistricting plan to meet 2012 primary election deadlines. Notwithstanding this situation, “Latino voters, and indeed all voters in Pennsylvania, are being placed in a situation where they are forced to accept unconstitutional representation until 2014. Such results cannot be tolerated - hence our recent motion,” said Juan Cartagena, LatinoJustice PRLDEF President and General Counsel.

Plaintiffs Joe Garcia, Fernando Quiles and Dalia Rivera Matias, previously asked the Court to stop the 2012 election using the 2001 district boundaries. The Court denied that motion because it would disrupt the political calendar for the April primaries, which took place on April 24, 2012 based on 2001 lines. Months later, the Legislative Reapportionment Commission issued a revised preliminary reapportionment plan on June 8, 2012, but there still is no 2011 legislative redistricting plan that has the full force and effect of law given that the thirty-day period within which any aggrieved person may file an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has not yet lapsed.

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