NY court decision gives Dems inside track on competitive House districts

New York’s top court handed Democrats a massive win Wednesday, ordering the state’s redistricting commission to craft new congressional maps ahead of the 2024 election cycle as Democrats try to regain seats they lost in 2022. 

“We are asked to remedy a constitutional deficiency in the 2022 redistricting process that was attributable to the [Independent abdication of its constitutional duty,” Chief Judge Rowan D. Wilson wrote in his majority opinion Wednesday.

In the 4-3 ruling, the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission is required to submit congressional maps to the state legislature by Feb. 28. 

New York has been in the midst of a redistricting saga stretching back to before the 2022 election cycle. Voters in the Empire State approved an amendment to the state’s constitution in 2014 that reformed its redistricting process and prohibited partisan gerrymandering. It created the bipartisan Independent Redistricting Commission, which is tasked with redrawing congressional lines. 

NEW YORK LEGAL BATTLE UNFOLDS AS STATE’S HIGH COURT REVIEWS LAWSUIT WITH POTENTIAL TO REDRAW HOUSE MAP

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at the state Capitol on Feb. 1, 2023, in Albany, N.Y. On Dec. 9, 2023, Hochul called on the state’s colleges and universities to swiftly address cases of antisemitism and what she described as any “calls for genocide” on campus. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

The commission, however, failed to reach a consensus ahead of the 2022 election, allowing the Democratic-controlled legislature to step in and draw the map. 

Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the redrawn map into law, which sparked a lawsuit from Republicans. A county judge at the time stuck down the Democratic-drawn map, before Democrats in the state took the case to the Court of Appeals. 

NEW YORK’S LEGAL BID TO REDRAW HOUSE MAP COULD DECIDE CONTROL OF CHAMBER

The Court of Appeals also struck down the map and appointed a “special master” to redraw the congressional lines ahead of the 2022 election. What soon followed under the new districts were Republicans winning five out of the six competitive House races in New York and flipping four blue seats red. 

With the ruling Wednesday, the court is ordering the Independent Redistricting Commission to take another shot at redistricting. 

US Capitol Washington DC

The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (Fox News Photo/Joshua Comins)

“In 2014, the voters of New York amended our Constitution to provide that legislative districts be drawn by an Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC),” Wilson wrote in the majority opinion. 

DRAFT OF NY CONGRESSIONAL REDISTRICTING MAP ‘ABSOLUTELY BRUTAL’ FOR DEMS

“The Constitution demands that process, not districts drawn by courts,” Wilson continued. “Nevertheless, the IRC failed to discharge its constitutional duty. That dereliction is undisputed. The Appellate Division concluded that the IRC can be compelled to reconvene to fulfill that duty; we agree. There is no reason the Constitution should be disregarded.”

Ahead of the highly-anticipated verdict, a group called Stop NY Corruption said Tuesday it would file another lawsuit if the Court of Appeals ruled the state redraw the lines. 

“The politicians in Albany want to manipulate your vote. They’re trying to use the courts in order to advance their own political gain. And this is a power grab of the most shameful kind,” said Bobbie Anne Cox of Stop NY Corruption, according to CBS News.

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