New York’s Top Court Strikes Down Congressional Maps in Huge Blow to Dems

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New York’s highest court upheld a lower-court decision that found several of the state’s newly drawn legislative maps to be unconstitutional, a move that deals a serious blow to Democrats nationally and looks likely to disrupt the upcoming primary election.

In its decision released on Wednesday, the Court of Appeals determined that the state legislature had failed to follow proper protocol, resulting in new maps for New York’s congressional and State Senate districts that were “drawn with an unconstitutional partisan intent.” The Democrat-dominated legislature had stepped in after an independent redistricting commission, which was approved by voters via an anti-gerrymandering ballot question in 2014, failed to agree on new district lines. The court ruled that both the congressional and State Senate maps be voided, keeping in place the map drawn for the State Assembly.

“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 court wrote.

The court appointed a neutral expert to come up with new maps. As a result of the delay, the primary election for congressional and State Senate seats will probably move from June 28 to a new date in August.

“We are confident that, in consultation with the Board of Elections, Supreme Court can swiftly develop a schedule to facilitate an August primary election, allowing time for the adoption of new constitutional maps, the dissemination of correct information to voters, the completion of the petitioning process, and compliance with federal voting laws,” the decision reads.

Earlier this year, the redistricting commission convened to draw new maps for New York’s legislative and congressional districts and ultimately submitted two sets of maps to the legislature for its approval. Lawmakers in Albany rejected both sets, so the panel was mandated to return with a new draft. However, the commission could not come to an agreement and never produced new boundaries, allowing the legislature to step in and formulate its own lines.

The maps produced by the state legislature were deemed by many to lean heavily in favor of state Democrats, particularly those in Congress. The congressional map as presented had the potential to net Democrats three new seats, despite the fact that the state lost one district following the 2020 Census results. Democrats are likely to lose the House of Representatives in the fall either way, but New York’s gerrymander could have helped cushion the blow.

Almost as soon as Governor Kathy Hochul signed the new maps into law, state Republicans filed a legal challenge. A state judge voided all three maps, a decision that was partially upheld by a Rochester appeals court, which also ruled that the maps were an example of gerrymandering.

Top NY Court Tosses Congressional Maps in Huge Blow to Dems