NY State top court throws out Dems' gerrymandered congressional redistricting plan
In a huge blow to Democrats' prospects in the House of Representatives, the highest court in New York State threw out the congressional redistricting map adopted by that state's Legislature. Nicholas Fando of the New York Times:
In a sweeping 32-page ruling, a divided New York State Court of Appeals chided Democrats for ignoring a constitutional amendment adopted by voters in 2014 to curb political influence in the redistricting process. The amendment also created a new outside commission to guide the process.
The judges additionally found that the congressional districts designed by Democrats violated an explicit state ban on partisan gerrymandering, undercutting the party's national campaign to brand itself as the champion of voting rights.
Writing for the four-judge majority, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said that Democratic lawmakers created congressional and State Senate maps in a way that was "procedurally unconstitutional," and that the congressional map in particular was "drawn with impermissible partisan purpose."
As CNN notes:
A 2014 amendment to New York's constitution created an independent redistricting commission that was obligated to draw a plan for the congressional map and present that plan to the state legislature for a vote. After the commission's first sets of district lines failed in the legislature, the commission did not submit a second plan. At that point, the state legislature drew the now-blocked map.
Instead of allowing the Democratic-led state legislature to pass a new map, Wednesday's decision returned the issue to lower court Judge Patrick McCallister, allowing him to work with a special master to draw the map. McCallister already appointed Jonathan Cervas as a special master and said the new congressional map will be issued by May 24.
FiveThirtyEight has a graphic that represents the map just rejected, and its change from ten years earlier:
In order to allow time for candidates to circulate petitions for a place on the ballot, the primary will have to be moved from June to August.
What is most remarkable about this decision is that all seven judges on the Court of Appeals were appointed by Democrat governors. But judges are not immune to the public's attitude toward politics, and Governor Hochul, and by extension, the Democrat-dominated state Legislature, have earned a high degree of distrust.
According to FiveThirtyEight:
There are currently 19 Democrats and eight Republicans in New York's congressional delegation, so this map likely would have resulted in Democrats gaining three House seats in the 2022 election and Republicans losing four, from just New York alone.
Meanwhile, Republican-dominated Florida has its own gerrymandered congressional redistricting map. According to FiveThirtyEight "it is a dream map for partisan Republicans, single-handedly adding four new Republicans to the U.S. House of Representatives."
That map, too is being litigated in court and may not survive.