Court of Appeals axes new maps for Congress, NY Senate

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Court of Appeals axes new maps for Congress, NY Senate

New York’s highest court has struck down new district lines for Congress and the state Senate drawn up to political advantage by state Democrats with just weeks to go until the June 28 primary elections. 

The issue before the Court of Appeals, which held a hearing on the matter Tuesday, was whether Democrats acted with partisan intent while violating the procedures established by the amendment, which tasked an Independent Redistricting Commission with drawing the maps.  

“We answer both questions in the affirmative and therefore declare the congressional and senate maps void. As a result, 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,” Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said in a ruling released Wednesday afternoon. 

The ruling stated that “judicial oversight” will be needed to ensure new maps are in place in time for upcoming elections.

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

Albany leaders approved new maps weeks ago that appeared specifically redrawn to benefit Democrats — and hurt Republicans — in their ongoing efforts to protect their legislative supermajorities and control of the U.S. House.

Republicans subsequently sued, arguing that Democrats violated a 2014 amendment to the state Constitution barring partisan gerrymandering.

Under those rules the new district maps were supposed to have been drawn by an independent commission. But that body, made up of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, predictably couldn’t agree on one set of maps. 

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, above, handed down the ruling.
Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, above, handed down the ruling.
AP

The Democratic-controlled Legislature then stepped in and created its own maps, quickly signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

“It’s not just a gerrymander, we’re calling it a Hochulmander,” GOP State Party Chair Nick Langworthy said last month.

New York is set to lose one seat in Congress in 2021. New York’s new maps would give 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.

Democrats had been hoping that a redistricting map favorable to their party in New York might help offset expected losses in other states where Republicans control state government.

With Post wires

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