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Friday, June 21, 2024

New York’s Supreme Court mandates redrawn congressional districts as Democrats aim to regain control of US House

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NEW YORK – The recent decision by New York’s highest court to order the state to draw new congressional districts ahead of the 2024 elections has sparked controversy and debate among political parties.

The 4-3 decision from the New York Court of Appeals is expected to have major ramifications as Democrats angle for more favorable district lines in the state next year. Republicans, who won control of the House after flipping seats in New York, sought to keep the map in place.

The state’s bipartisan Independent Redistricting Commission will now be tasked with coming up with new districts, which will then go before the Democrat-controlled Legislature for approval. The court ordered the commission to file a map no later than Feb. 28, 2024.

“In 2014, the voters of New York amended our Constitution to provide that legislative districts be drawn by an Independent Redistricting Commission,” Chief Judge Rowan D. Wilson wrote for the majority. “The Constitution demands that process, not districts drawn by courts.”

The ruling is an early, but important, step in Democrats’ plans to retake a handful of congressional districts in New York seen as vital to winning a House majority.

“Today’s decision is a win for democracy and particularly the people of New York. We are eager for the Independent Redistricting Commission to get back to work to create a new, fair congressional map – through the process New York voters intended,” said Suzan DelBene, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Democrats sued to have last year’s maps thrown out after their party lost a handful of seats in the New York City suburbs and handed control of the House to Republicans.

The case came after Democrats in the state bungled the redistricting process for the 2022 elections, and along with what many considered political miscalculations at the top of the state ticket, drew blame for the party’s loss of the House.

The maps used last year were supposed to be drawn by a bipartisan commission that was established by voters to stop partisan gerrymandering of districts. But the commission, which is made up of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, failed to reach a consensus and eventually gave up.

The state Legislature then stepped in and drew its own map, which was set up in a way to give Democrats a major edge by cramming Republican voters into a few super districts, diluting GOP voting power in the rest of the state.

But a legal challenge stopped the Democrats’ map from moving forward and the Court of Appeals ruled that the state didn’t follow proper procedure in adopting the maps.

Instead, the court had an independent expert draw a new set of lines that, along with strong turnout from the GOP, led to Republicans flipping seats in the New York City suburbs and winning control of the House in 2022.

Democrats then filed their own lawsuit to stop last year’s maps from being used in 2024, with the case going all the way to New York’s highest court. They argued that the court-drawn map was never meant to be used in more than one election and that the state’s bipartisan redistricting commission should have another opportunity to draw the maps.

Republicans have argued the districts are politically balanced and should not be discarded.

Democrats have dedicated major financial and campaign resources to retake districts in New York next year. Republicans are aiming to hold onto the seats, focusing on issues such as crime and the arrival of migrants that they hope will animate suburban voters.’

New York Attorney General Letitia James and Governor Kathy Hochul released the following statement on the decision:

“Today’s redistricting decision will ensure all New Yorkers are fairly and equitably represented by elected officials. As the Court of Appeals reaffirmed today, district lines should be drawn by the Independent Redistricting Commission. We will continue our efforts to protect voting rights for all New Yorkers.”

NYS Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt issued the following statement:

“Today’s decision by the Court of Appeals is disappointing to all New Yorkers who voted resoundingly to reject Democrats’ blatant attempts to gerrymander districts in their favor.

Instead of respecting the will of the voters and the initial ruling by the Court of Appeals, Democrats doubled down and stacked the Court, weaponizing our judicial system in an effort to get the decision they wanted.

This decision diminishes the voice of millions of New Yorkers who demanded fairness, transparency, and accountability in the redistricting process and marks the beginning of an era of partisan decision-making in New York’s highest court.”

It is clear that the decision has sparked a heated debate and will continue to be a major point of contention in the lead-up to the 2024 elections.

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Alejandro Mendoza
Alejandro Mendoza
Alejandro Mendoza is a dedicated journalist, known for his in-depth research and commitment to truth. A graduate of Columbia University's School of Journalism, he specializes in revealing and reporting on significant local issues.
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2 COMMENTS

  1. Agree: This decision is necessary to address the potential gerrymandering issue and ensure a more democratic representation in the US House.

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