The New York Court rejected the new redistricting maps drawn up by the Democrats, accusing them of being unconstitutional and of being made solely to win more seats in the general election on April 27.
According to the AP, the new New York maps drawn by Democrats would give them a large majority of voters in 22 of the state’s 26 congressional districts.
Judge DiFiore wrote, “The legislature responded by creating and enacting maps in a nontransparent manner controlled exclusively by the dominant political party—doing exactly what they would have done had the 2014 constitutional reforms never been passed.”
The court found that Democratic representatives conducted redistricting in violation of the 2014 voter-drafted amendment prohibiting redistricting for partisan gain, otherwise known as gerrymandering.
The redistricting should have been done by a politically appointed commission responsible for drawing the new maps. But the commission charged with this task would have to be elected by equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans.
Allegedly, they failed to reach a consensus. The Democrat-led legislature intervened and approved new maps to their benefit.
Four of the seven appeals court judges voted and were joined by a fifth, ruling that the Senate and congressional maps were procedurally unconstitutional.
“Prompt judicial intervention is both necessary and appropriate to guarantee the People’s right to a free and fair election,” said the court’s opinion, written by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore,” according to AP.
The Court’s ruling ordered a master appointed by the court to draw new lines for this year’s mid-term elections.
Lawyers for the Democrats justified their clients’ course of action by arguing that the Legislature legally allowed it to draw its own maps when the redistricting commission failed to reach a consensus. Moreover, they were made in accordance with new demographic changes.
The maps made by the Democrats generated criticism from Republicans, as several Republican-controlled districts were redrawn to include neighborhoods, cities, or regions to the benefit of Democrats. Republicans would lose three seats in Congress, reported the Democrat & Chronicle.
For example, the 11th Congressional District represented by Republican Nicole Malliotakis had included all of Staten Island and neighborhoods across the Verrazano Bridge, such as Bay Ridge. Instead, they were redrawn, and conservative Brooklyn neighborhoods were replaced by the heavily Democratic neighborhoods of Sunset Park, Gowanus, and Park Slope, CBS News reported.
The latest census also showed that New York’s population did not grow enough to maintain its 27 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, so Congress would lose one seat, reducing the total to 26, the Democrat & Chronicle reported.
In that sense, the lost seat was in the 22nd District held by Claudia Tenney, a Republican, which currently covers rural areas of central New York and the Democratic cities of Utica and Binghamton. According to the new maps, the district would be reinvented to focus on Syracuse and Ithaca, both Democratic strongholds. Utica and Binghamton would go to District 19 to the east, giving that district a Democratic edge, among other apportioned districts.
Currently, New York Republicans hold eight seats in the U.S. House of Representatives; Democrats hold 19.
This indictment would potentially disrupt the congressional primary elections planned for late June.
DiFiore wrote It would “likely be necessary,” to move the congressional and state Senate primary elections from June 28 to August to give time for the maps to be redrawn and for candidates and elections officials to adapt their plans.