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Pennsylvania's supreme court said the state's congressional map is unconstitutional

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the state's widely criticized congressional map Monday, ruling Republicans had violated the state's constitution by unfairly gerrymandering voting districts.

In the Democratic-controlled court's decision, the majority said the boundaries "clearly, plainly and palpably" violate the state's constitution and blocked the boundaries from remaining in effect for the 2018 elections with just weeks until dozens of people file paperwork to run for Congress.

The decision could prove a major boon for Democrats hoping to regain control of the House of Representatives in 2018.

The justices gave the Republican-controlled Legislature until Feb. 9 to pass a replacement and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf until Feb. 15 to submit it to the court. Otherwise, the justices said they will adopt a plan in an effort to keep the May 15 primary election on track.

The decision comes amid a national tide of gerrymandering cases, including some that have reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Democrats cheered the decision to toss out a Republican-drawn map used in three general elections going back to 2012. The map, they say, gave Republicans crucial help in securing 13 of 18 seats in a state where registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans 5 to 4.

The Senate's top Republican lawyer, Drew Crompton, called the timeline to draw new districts "borderline unworkable," but said Republicans will do everything they can to comply. He also mentioned the possibility of appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court. Pennsylvania's Democratic Lieutenant Governor called that "a really silly idea."

The decision has immediate implications for the 2018 election, meaning that 14 sitting members of Congress and dozens more people are planning to run in districts they may no longer live in. The deadline to file paperwork to run in primaries is March 6.

It also has implications for GOP control of Congress, since only Texas, California and Florida send more Republicans to the U.S. House than Pennsylvania.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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