In the wake of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court order that struck down a Republican congressional map as unconstitutionally gerrymandered, Sen. Pat Toomey said that impeachment of the justices is “a conversation that has to happen.”

The GOP map had given Republicans a nearly 3-1 congressional majority in a state that leans Democratic; the court’s new map will still give Republicans a significant advantage, but slightly less of one. For Toomey, that amounted, he said, to a “blatant, unconstitutional, partisan power grab that undermines our electoral process.”

“I think state House members, state senators, are going to be speaking among themselves and their constituents,” Toomey said. “Does that rise to the level of impeachment? That’s ultimately their decision but it’s a conversation that has to happen.”

The new map means several Republican incumbents now risk losing their seats, and a half-dozen competitive Republican-held congressional districts move left.

Toomey’s floating of impeachment drags what had been a fringe position into the GOP mainstream. And the rhetoric is already intense. The Pennsylvania House Republican spokesman Wednesday morning called the judges “unaccountable despots” after drawing the new lines.

A Republican legislature drew the congressional lines back in 2011, and had the map approved by a then-Republican governor, which led to the party winning 13 of the state’s 18 districts in the 2016 election. The new map isn’t necessarily a Democratic love fest — it was meticulously designed to compensate for the party’s geographic disadvantages and intended to restore fairness even despite the fact that there are currently 4 million registered Democrats in the state outnumbering the 3.2 million registered Republicans.

It’s one of the most consequential events yet in the Democrats’ effort to retake the House. There are now at least five plausible opportunities to pick up a seat in the commonwealth, including the seat held by Rep. Pat Meehan, who is retiring after a sexual harassment case. Besides the districts that have all been shifted away from Republicans, the only other notable change is for Rep. Lloyd Smucker, a Republican moving into a more conservative 11th district. But even there, activists in his Lancaster district say they are still determined to beat him, even if the hill is steeper.

State lawmakers are expected to sue to overturn the new maps and President Donald Trump gave Republicans his blessing to take it to the U.S. Supreme Court “if necessary,” arguing that the original version the court ruled unconstitutional was actually “correct.” Legal experts, however, note that the issue is about state law and Republicans probably won’t find much help in federal courts.  

“It’s unfortunate that the only way the Republican Party can win elections is to dismantle democracy, relying on unconstitutional gerrymandering and calling for the impeachment of judges that have been elected by the voters of Pennsylvania,” said Greg Edwards, a Democratic candidate for Congress running in the Lehigh Valley. “It shows Democracy is nothing more than an accessory to put on and take off when most convenient to the Republicans.”

Update: February 22, 2018, 12:02 p.m.
This article has been updated with a quote from congressional candidate Greg Edwards.

Top photo: Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) speaks to reporters about the proposed Senate Republican tax bill, after attending the Senate GOP policy luncheon, at US Capitol on November 14, 2017 in Washington, DC.