A state appeals court in New York has declared unlawful a congressional redistricting plan devised by the state’s Democratic majority that overwhelmingly favored the party. According to The Hill, the court found on Thursday that the map “was intended to impede competition” and was thus invalid, giving the state till the end of the month to create a new one.
The judges also took into account testimony from an election’s analyst, a comparison of the 2012 and 2022 maps, and “proof of the predominantly one-party procedure employed to adopt the 2022 congressional map,” according to the ruling.
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The court also highlighted that almost no Republicans were involved in the creation of the new maps, and that Democratic leaders intentionally ignored GOP input when they were developed. As a result, no Republican legislators in the state voted in support of the map, according to the court.
State lawmakers have until the end of the month to redraw the boundaries, according to the ruling. Following the ruling Thursday evening by the state Supreme Court’s appellate division, John Faso, a former Republican congressman who is advising the plaintiffs in the case, said, “It’s a victory for our contention that the Legislature violated the [state] Constitution when it drew the lines for Congress.”
Democrats, who control the state Senate and Assembly with supermajorities, aim to appeal the judgment to the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.
According to The Hill, the judgment highlighted that the 2022 congressional map has four Republican-majority districts and 22 Democratic-majority districts, compared to eight elected Republicans and 19 elected Democrats in the 2012 map, indicating that the most recent map is tilted blue.
The court also cited evidence and reports from elections expert Sean Trende, who “primarily relied on a computer simulation used in other jurisdictions and data-driven metrics to infer that the authorized 2022 congressional map was constructed to disadvantage competition and favor democrats.”
The court stated that “Trende found that the authorized congressional plan pushed republican votes “into a few [r]epublican-leaning districts, while dispersing [d]emocratic voters as effectively as feasible.”
The state legislature has until April 30 to develop a new congressional map, according to the appeals court. Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, is poised to appeal the decision, according to The New York Times.
If Hochul and others file an appeal, judges in that court have suggested that a decision might come as soon as next week. The decision represents the state Democrats’ second loss in terms of congressional maps. The Times said that “this time it came in an appellate court that was usually considered as favourable to the parties.”
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“Like other state courts around the country, New York courts aren’t finding determining whether a map is a political gerrymander to be especially difficult,” Michael Li, senior counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program, told the New York Times.
“Defending a map like New York’s is difficult, and in the end, if it quacks like a duck, it definitely is a duck,” Li remarked. Democrats’ lawyers sought to claim that the maps were fair to Republicans, preserved minority voting rights, and represented population decrease in the state’s upstate areas, according to the Western Journal.
Republicans only account for around 22% of all registered voters in New York, yet they now hold eight of the state’s 27 congressional seats. However, New York will lose one congressional seat as a result of the 2020 census. However, if the revised plan had been implemented, Democrats would have gained even more ground, with 22 of the state’s 26 congressional districts going to them. Meanwhile, the United States Supreme Court agreed with Republicans in Wisconsin’s redistricting case last month.
The Supreme Court of the United States overturned a Wisconsin Supreme Court decision that chose the plan created by Democrat Gov. Tony Evers and remanded the issue to the state for reconsideration. “The court’s conduct today is unique,” liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan wrote, adding that “the court now blames the State Supreme Court for its failure to comply with a requirement that, under current precedent, is ambiguous at best.”
The court rejected a challenge from five Republican congressmen who objected to the congressional map adopted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which had also been prepared by Mr. Evers, a Democrat, in a second unsigned ruling on Wednesday, which was one sentence long and noted no dissents,” according to the New York Times.
“In the case of state legislative districts, lawyers for the Legislature and four voters filed an emergency application with the United States Supreme Court, calling the governor’s map a 21st-century racial gerrymander, citing the fact that it increased the number of State Assembly districts around Milwaukee in which Black voters made up a majority to seven from six.” The number was reduced to five in the Legislature’s plan,” according to the newspaper.