A state appeals court in Rochester ruled Thursday that the congressional map that was recently drawn and approved by the state legislature was unconstitutionally enacted and is an example of partisan gerrymandering.
In their decision, three of the panel’s five judges concluded that the evidence “met petitioners’ burden of establishing that the 2022 congressional map was drawn to discourage competition and favor Democrats.”
“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,” the concurring judges wrote.
While the decision upheld the boundaries drawn for New York State Assembly and Senate districts, the judges ruled that lawmakers in the legislature have until April 30 to produce a replacement congressional map.
The court’s decision is expected to be appealed, which would send it to the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court. The seven judges on that court were all appointed by Governor Kathy Hochul or her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo.
The maps ended up in the courts because a legal challenge was filed after the new electoral boundaries were signed into law by Hochul in February. The suit was brought in Steuben County with a state Supreme Court judge finding all three maps unconstitutional, saying that the court would hire a neutral expert to draw the maps if the legislature was unable to produce new ones. Democratic officials quickly appealed.
The state legislature received the opportunity to draw New York’s new legislative and congressional maps after the independent redistricting commission failed to come to an agreement on a final plan earlier in the year. The result was a series of maps that many experts believed gave an extra advantage to Democrats in the state. That congressional map had the potential to net up to three seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, a significant number at a time when party control of the chamber will be in play in the upcoming midterm elections.