The court—the highest in New York—sided with lower courts in saying that three maps backed by Democrats were unconstitutionally gerrymandered. The judges, in a 4–3 ruling, ordered a special master to help craft a more neutral plan.
These maps, the court ruled (pdf), were “procedurally unconstitutional, and the congressional map is also substantively unconstitutional as drawn with impermissible partisan purpose.”
“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 judges wrote.
The Democrat-led state legislature decided to draw its own maps after the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission could not reach a consensus.
A lower-level court ruled earlier in April that the maps violated the Constitution, giving state lawmakers a deadline of April 30 to create new maps or allow the court to take over.
In February of this year, Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, signed into law the redistricting plan, which realigned 22 districts into heavily Democratic areas and four districts into mostly Republican areas. Analysts have speculated that it means the GOP would lose at least four Republican-leaning seats in the House.
But the New York Court of Appeals concluded the process was done in an unconstitutional manner.
“Petitioners first asserted that, in light of the lack of compliance by the [Independent Redistricting Commission] and the legislature with the procedures set forth in the Constitution, the legislature’s enactment of the 2022 redistricting maps contravened the Constitution,” according to the ruling, authored by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore for the majority. “To conclude otherwise, petitioners contend, would be to render the 2014 amendments—touted as an important reform of the redistricting process—functionally meaningless. We agree.”
Meanwhile, the court said it will “likely be necessary” to move state Senate and congressional primary elections from June to August 2022 due to its decision.
“As a result,” it added, “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.”
Several Republican elected officials praised Wednesday’s court ruling. The GOP needs to obtain just five seats to take a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2022. Historically, the party of the president tends to lose congressional seats in midterm elections.
“NY’s Court of Appeals just tossed the hyper-partisan, gerrymandered Congressional and State Senate maps for the state. This is excellent news for the people of New York and yet another big-time defeat for Kathy Hochul and her Dem allies,” wrote Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), who is running for governor, in a Twitter post.
In a statement on Wednesday, New York State Senate Majority Communications Director Mike Murphy told news outlets: “We are reviewing the decision.”
Since the New York Court of Appeals is the state’s highest court and the court of last resort, Democrats cannot appeal Wednesday’s decision.
The Epoch Times has contacted Hochul’s office for comment.
From The Epoch Times