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Politics & Government

Ex-Pitt Chancellor Nordenberg To Chair Redistricting Panel

Mark Nordenberg, Patrick D. Gallagher
Keith Srakocic
/
AP
Patrick D. Gallagher, right, the acting Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce and Director of the Standards and Technology, shakes hands with the current Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh, Mark Nordenberg during a break in the first half of the NCAA college basketball game between Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Pittsburgh. It was announced earlier that Gallagher would be the next Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh after Nordenberg retires later this year. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Mark Nordenberg, the former chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh, on Monday became the state high court's appointee and the tie-breaking fifth member of the panel that will redraw boundaries of Pennsylvania's legislative districts.

The state Supreme Court delivered the news in an official court docket entry and in a letter to the Legislature's caucus leaders from the chief justice, Max Baer, who is a fellow Pittsburgher.

Nordenberg, who also was Pitt's law school dean, now chair's the university’s Institute of Politics.

The legislative districts must be redrawn before the 2022 elections to conform with demographic changes identified by the one-a-decade census count.

For the past three decades at least, the state Supreme Court has appointed the panel's fifth member after the four members — two Democratic lawmakers and two Republican lawmakers — could not agree on a fifth member.

That fifth member can play the critical role of forging compromise between the two partisan sides or simply selecting one side's partisan plan over the other's.

The state Supreme Court has a 5-2 Democratic majority, with four of those Democrats hailing from the Pittsburgh area.

The 253-member General Assembly currently has strong Republican majorities in both chambers.

For the last two decades, the tie-breaking member of the redistricting commission was chosen by a Republican-majority court.