After the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an attempt by the Pennsylvania GOP to restore the state’s “insanely gerrymandered” congressional map on Monday, one Republican decided that the next rational course of action would be to launch an impeachment campaign against the five state justices who deemed the map unconstitutional—a move critics denounced as a “remarkable” attempt to subvert democracy.

“Impeaching judges because one disagrees with a court decision that strengthened democracy is a classic move of authoritarian regimes.”
—Stephen Wolf

The effort was spearheaded by Republican Pennsylvania state Rep. Cris Dush, who sent a memo attacking the state Supreme Court’s 5-2 ruling last month that said the GOP-drawn districts “clearly, plainly, and palpably” violate the state constitution. Many analysts agreed with this interpretation, calling the map one of the most extreme partisan gerrymanders in the nation.

Instead of obeying the court’s order to redraw the map ahead of the 2018 midterms, Dush on Monday urged his colleagues to co-sponsor legislation to remove the five Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices who struck down the map.

“The five justices who signed this order that blatantly and clearly contradicts the plain language of the Pennsylvania constitution, engaged in misbehavior in office. Wherefore, each is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office and disqualification to hold any office or trust or profit under this Commonwealth.”

While experts characterized the Pennsylvania GOP’s legal arguments for restoring the gerrymandered map as “frivolous,” many reacted with alarm to Dush’s memo, calling it a “serious threat” because Republicans—thanks to aggressive gerrymandering—hold a strong majority in the state legislature.

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