New York judge orders legislature to draw new state redistricting map

New York judge orders legislature to draw new state redistricting map

A state supreme court judge in New York ordered the legislature to redraw the state’s new voting map’s lines after ruling in favor of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the recently approved redistricting plan for U.S. House districts.

Judge Patrick F. McAllister, based out of Steuben County, stated in his ruling that the map’s boundaries were drawn with political bias and cannot be used for any upcoming elections, including the June primary.

The judge gave state lawmakers until April 11 to draw and pass a new voting map that passes his muster. If they fail to do so on deadline, the judge will bring in a “neutral expert” to draw the lines at the state’s expense.

Fourteen Republican voters filed the 67-page lawsuit, claiming the new congressional map violates a 2014 state constitutional amendment by being “undeniably politically gerrymandered” after four GOP-leaning seats were eliminated.

“This court should reject it as a matter of substance, as the map is an obviously unconstitutional partisan and incumbent-protection gerrymander,” the suit said.

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, New York Republican, told The Washington Times that GOP lawmakers have “said all along that this was a blatant attempt by all the Democrats to redraw our boundaries to change the rules to tilt the scale to give a person I beat an advantage to come back to Congress.”

“It was not just wrong, but it was an unconstitutional violation of the state constitution. So I’m pleased to see the Supreme Court’s decision,” she said.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, called the judge’s ruling “great.”

“I think it’s very good. The map was very gerrymandered. It should be thrown out,” he told the Times.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, sees the ruling as a bump in the road along the legal process and that the map that New York Democrats want will eventually prevail after a likely appeal.

“The maps are still in place and so the decision means nothing until you get a final appellate ruling on it. And we’re confident that the map is 100% legal,” he told The Times.

Democrats currently hold a 19-8 edge in the state’s U.S. House delegation.

The new map’s boundaries, which includes one less seat from the 2020 census, would give Democrats the edge 22 of the state’s 26 congressional districts.

The lawsuit gave partisan gerrymandering examples in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Long Island and the North Country, which the plaintiffs said state lawmaker intentionally redrew district lines to favor Democrats.

The residents filed the lawsuit in the New York State Supreme Court immediately after Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the new district lines into law on Feb. 3. State officials have been working on its voting map since August.

The State Senate and Assembly initially passed redistricting maps after an Independent Redistricting Commission of five Democrats and five Republicans could not put forth one set of maps to state lawmakers.