Gerrymandering fight moves to New York’s highest court | New Policies
By MARINA VILLENEUVE, Associated Press
ALBANY, NY (AP) — The fight for control of the U.S. House moves to New York’s highest court on Tuesday, where judges will determine whether Democrats illegally gerrymander the boundaries of newly redrawn congressional districts in the state.
The New York Court of Appeals is expected to hear arguments from a lawsuit filed by a group of Republican voters challenging the legality of the new district maps.
The lawsuit says the Democratic-controlled legislature violated provisions of the state constitution that prohibited the reshuffling of districts for partisan purposes.
New York’s governor and legislative leaders deny breaking the rules, but two lower courts have already ruled that district maps were drafted specifically to give Democrats an advantage.
A mid-level appeals court last week gave the Legislative Assembly a deadline of April 30 to propose revised maps, or else leave the redesign in the hands of a court-appointed expert.
A third move against the cards could potentially upend the state’s planned congressional primary, now scheduled for late June.
The Court of Appeal is expected to render a decision this week.
The legal battle in New York could play a big role in the battle for control of the US House of Representatives, where Democrats now enjoy a slim majority.
Maps of political districts across the country have been redrawn in recent months following population changes documented in the 2020 census.
Democrats were counting on New York lawmakers to produce a heavily pro-party card to help offset expected Republican gains in other states.
New York’s new maps would give Democrats a strong majority of registered voters in 22 of the state’s 26 congressional districts. Republicans, who make up about 22% of New York’s registered voters, currently hold eight of the state’s 27 seats in Congress. New York will lose one seat in 2021.
Partisan gerrymandering of political district maps is a centuries-old tradition in the United States, but New York voters tried to limit the practice through a constitutional amendment in 2014.
The new maps were originally supposed to have been drawn by an independent commission, but that body, made up of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, could not reach a consensus, allowing the Legislature to intervene.
So far this election cycle, the courts have stepped in to block cards they have found to be Republican gerrymanders in North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and Democratic gerrymanders in Maryland. Such decisions resulted in delayed primaries in North Carolina, Ohio and Maryland.
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