Saturday, January 28, 2023
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UPDATE: NY Appeals Court Rejects Democrats’ Gerrymandered Maps

'The process failed and there was a violation of law... '

(Associated Press) New York’s highest court on Wednesday rejected new congressional maps that had widely been seen as favoring Democrats, largely agreeing with Republican voters who argued the district boundaries were unconstitutionally gerrymandered.

The state’s Court of Appeals said lawmakers lacked the authority to pass the congressional and state Senate maps after an independent redistricting commission failed to reach a consensus.

The judges also said lawmakers gerrymandered the congressional maps to Democrats’ favor, in violation of a 2014 constitutional amendment designed to rout out political gamesmanship in redistricting.

The Appeals Court said it will “likely be necessary” to move the congressional and state Senate primary elections from June to August.

The group of Republican voters had said in their lawsuit not only that the maps were gerrymandered, but also that the Legislature didn’t follow proper procedure in passing them.

A lower-level court had also ruled that the maps were unconstitutional and had given the Legislature an April 30 deadline to come up with new maps or else leave the task to a court-appointed expert.

The judges in Wednesday’s ruling said a special court master will pass new district maps instead of the Legislature.

Judicial “oversight is required to facilitate the expeditious creation of constitutionally conforming maps for use in the 2022 election and to safeguard the constitutionally protected right of New Yorkers to a fair election,” the ruling read.

The ruling didn’t specify a deadline for the adoption of new maps. But the judges said they were sending the matter to a lower state court, which “shall adopt constitutional maps with all due haste.”

The legal fight over New York’s redistricting process could be a factor in the battle between Democrats and Republicans for control of the U.S. House.

New York is set to lose one seat in Congress in 2021. New York’s gerrymandered maps would have given Democrats a strong majority of registered voters in 22 of the state’s 26 congressional districts. Right now, Republicans currently hold eight of the state’s 27 seats.

Original story below:

(John RansomHeadline USA) Lawyers for Democrats and Republicans squared off in front of New York’s highest court as the Democrats made a last-second appeal after lower courts found their election maps illegal.

The 2012 election map included 19 elected Democrats and 8 elected Republicans. The Democrat map this year suggests 22 Democrat districts against 4 Republican districts.

In 2014, New York made gerrymandering illegal and created a bipartisan commission to create new election maps, but the Democrat legislature in New York took over that role this year creating maps highly favorable to the Democrats, said the New York Times.

Questioning from judges suggested that they viewed the maps with some skepticism, because of the 2014 law, however were reluctant to intercede because of the upcoming June primaries, and the urgent need to have functioning maps for those elections, reported Politico.

“Is it a possible remedy to send it back to the [commission that draw draft plans last year]?” asked Judge Rowan Wilson, according to Politico.

“If it’s determined that there was a gerrymander, does it go back to the Legislature?” asked Judge Madeline Singas.

Republicans have said that clearly the maps are a violation of the 2014 law that sought to avoid exactly this type of gerrymandering by either party.

“[New York voters] set up the strongest language prohibiting partisan gerrymandering found in any constitution in the United States,” attorney Misha Tseytlin, an attorney for the GOP plaintiffs, argued in court Tuesday, according to the New York Post.

“The process failed and there was a violation of law,” Tseytlin added.

Earlier lower New York courts had found that the Democrats had improperly created the maps, not just by superseding the 2014 commission, but by failing to consult Republicans in creation of the maps.

“Democratic leaders in the legislature drafted the 2022 congressional redistricting map without any Republican input, and the map was adopted by the Legislature without a single Republican vote in favor of it,” said the court’s decision.

And clearly, that’s not what the 2014 law approved by voters was intended to do.

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