When a judge threw out the heavily gerrymandered New York redistricting map that had been cooked up by the state’s Democrats earlier this month, a party spokesperson told everyone not to worry because “we always knew this case would be decided by the appellate courts.” The implication was that they would be able to drive through the map during the appeals process, wiping out three GOP districts and leaving the Republicans with only four. He turned out to be correct, but not in the way he anticipated. The New York Court of Appeals – the highest court in the state – took the case on and sided with the Republicans who had challenged the map. The court reached the rather obvious conclusion that the Democrats’ map was “substantively unconstitutional” and had been drawn with “impermissible partisan purpose.” So now, neither party will be participating in the redistricting process. (National Review)
The New York State Court of Appeals rejected the congressional district maps drawn up by the Democrat-controlled state legislature on Wednesday.
The court, which is the highest court in the state, ruled 4-3 in favor of a complaint brought by Republican voters against the district maps. The state legislature’s proposal would have altered three currently Republican districts to make them more favorable to Democrats.
“The enactment of the congressional and senate maps by the legislature was procedurally unconstitutional, and the congressional map is also substantively unconstitutional as drawn with impermissible partisan purpose,” according to the ruling by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore.
Under the state’s recently implemented redistricting laws, the question is not going to be tossed back to the legislature for another attempt. The task will be handed off to a “special master” who will be an allegedly “neutral expert.” While finding someone who is truly neutral is probably an impossible task, the person who is selected will at least come up with something different. And if you take a look at the map that the Democrats came up with, the next version will almost certainly work out better for the GOP because, frankly, it would be almost impossible to come up with anything worse.
This might prove to serve as something of a lesson to the other states currently struggling with this process. New York’s Democrats became far too greedy and tried to drive all but a few Republicans from elected office in Congress. As a result, the power to restructure the maps has been taken from their hands and will be given to someone who may prove to be a wildcard. Instead of gaining three congressional seats, the Democrats could conceivably wind up losing one. And they don’t have that much of a margin in Washington to begin with.
The next question to be determined is the date for the State’s primary elections. They were scheduled to take place on June 28, with early voting beginning on June 18. That’s less than two months away and we don’t even know who is going to draw the new maps yet. The court ruling said that it will “likely be necessary” to move the primary out to August. But even then, that’s still an incredibly short amount of time for all of the incumbents and challengers to figure out where they need to be campaigning and deploying their teams or buying advertising time. We’re almost certainly going to be running into cases where incumbents from adjacent districts who were gearing up for the November elections will suddenly find themselves in a primary battle with a member of their own party.
In any event, this makes three states in a row where redistricting challenges have gone the wrong way for Democrats. In Florida, Ron DeSantis wound up prevailing and will likely deliver a heavily gerrymandered map in favor of Republicans. The Democrats’ map in Maryland was tossed in favor of one approved by the state’s GOP governor. And now the hoped-for gains the Democrats were counting on in New York (to counterbalance the previous two states) are likely going to disappear. As if the Democrats didn’t already have enough to worry about with a potential red wave threatening their slim majority in the House. The hill they face in front of them just became even steeper.