A New York state appeals court has struck down a congressional redistricting map drawn by the state’s Democratic majority that heavily favored the party as unconstitutional.
The court on Thursday ruled that the map “was drawn to discourage competition,” and was therefore illegal, giving the state until the end of the month to draw a new one, The Hill reported.
Judges also noted that they considered testimony from an elections analysis expert, as well as a comparison of the 2012 and 2022 maps, and “evidence of the largely one-party process used to enact the 2022 congressional map.” The court noted as well that there was nearly no Republican participation in drawing the new maps and that GOP input was actually excluded by Democratic leaders when they drafted them.
As such, the court said, no Republican lawmakers in the state voted in favor of the map.
The Hill adds:
The ruling noted that under the 2022 congressional map, there are four Republican-majority districts and 22 Democratic-majority districts; in comparison, in the 2012 map there were eight elected Republicans and 19 elected Democrats, indicating that the latest map was skewed blue.
The court also noted testimony and reports from elections analysis expert Sean Trende, who “largely relied on a computer simulation accepted in other jurisdictions and data-driven metrics in order to conclude that the enacted 2022 congressional map was drawn to disfavor competition and favor democrats.”
“Trende concluded that the enacted congressional map pressed republican voters ‘into a few [r]epublican-leaning districts, while spreading [d]emocratic voters as efficiently as possible,’” the court noted.
The appeals court ordered that the state legislature has until April 30 to produce a new congressional map. That said, Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, is expected to appeal the ruling, The New York Times reported. Judges in that court indicated they may issue a ruling as soon as next week if Hochul and others appeal.
The ruling is the second setback for state Democrats regarding congressional maps.
“[A]nd this time it came in an appellate court that was viewed as generally friendly to the party,” the Times reported.
“Like other state courts around the country, New York courts aren’t finding the question of whether a map is a partisan gerrymander a particularly hard one to decide,” Michael Li, senior counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice told the Times.
“It’s very hard to defend a map like New York’s, and ultimately if it quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck,” Li added.
The Western Journal notes further:
Democrats’ attorneys tried to argue that the maps were fair to Republicans, protected minority voting rights and reflected the population loss in the upstate communities of the state, WNBC News reported.
Republicans only represent about 22 percent of all registered voters in New York and currently hold eight of the state’s 27 seats in Congress.
However, after the 2020 census, New York now gets one less seat in Congress.
Had the new map stood, however, Dems would have increased their advantage, giving themselves 22 of the state’s 26 congressional districts.
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