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NY Gerrymandering: Primary Process Can Move Forward Pending Appeal But Trial Judge Also Can Appoint Neutral Expert To Redraw Map

NY Gerrymandering: Primary Process Can Move Forward Pending Appeal But Trial Judge Also Can Appoint Neutral Expert To Redraw Map

An appellate court Justice created two-tracks pending appeal, but warned: “[t]he Legislature may begin redrawing the map right now if it chooses to do so. Or the Legislature may chose to do nothing and risk the possibility of having to live with the map drawn by Judge McAllister’s neutral expert”

A week ago, a New York State trial court judge ruled that the redistricting map drawn by the Democrat-controlled legislature to favor Democrats was void for failing to follow mandatory procedures, and also was unconstitutional, Judge Throws Out NY State’s Democrat Gerrymandered Congressional Map “Unconstitutionally Drawn With Political Bias”.

After some convoluted procedural maneuvers enabled by having leglislative super-majorities, NY State Democrats passed one of the most absurdly gerrymandered redistricting maps which redistricted most congressional Republicans out of existence. It was a huge win for Democrats in their hope of retaining the U.S. House of Representatives, giving Democrats several more seats.

The NY Times noted that Democrats bragged they had performed a “Master Class” in gerrymandering ….

A lawsuit was filed challenging the new map, and on March 31, 2022, Judge Patrick F. McAllister of the NY Supreme Court (the trial level court in NY) ruled that the map violated state law. The Judge found that the new map was void ab initio because the proper procedure was not followed, and also because the maps reflected political bias, contrary to state law. The Judge ordered new maps to be submitted by April 11, and if that did not happen, he would appoint an expert to do so.

State Appellate Division Associate Justice Stephen Lindley issued an interim stay. Justice Lindley heard argument yesterday as to whether he should exend the stay. According to reports, Justice Lindley found the whole legislative process troubling:

The 10-member “independent redistricting commission” formed in 2014 to redraw congressional and state Senate and Assembly maps following the decennial census was not independent at all, Appellate Judge Stephen Lindley said during a virtual hearing Thursday.

The appointments to the panel were equally split between Democrats and Republicans, resulting in bipartisan gridlock.

The redistricting process “was flawed from the outset” and “everyone knew it,” Lindley said.

“It’s no surprise. It wasn’t independent.”

Justice Lindley issued his ruling today, and it was very sensible from a judicial management perspective. He continued the stay as to the trial court throwing out the maps and declaring the maps void. This allows the normal primary petitioning and registration process to continue. This way, should the full appellate court rule that the maps are lawful, the primary process would not have been disrupted.

But at the same time, Justice Lindley ordered that the legislature could submit new maps to the trial court and the trial court Justice could appoint the neutral expert to propose a map. That way, should the appellate court rule that the maps are void or unconstitutional, there will be an alternative map that could be used.

This allows two tracks to move forward at the same time so that when the appellate court rules, there will be a map that can be used. That hearing is scheduled for April 20.

From the Decision (emphasis added)

I am granting in part respondentsappellants’  (respondents) application for a stay of enforcement of the order of Hon. Patrick F. McAllister, entered March 31, 2022. The stay will apply to the provisions of the order that enjoin respondents and their agents, including officials from the various boards of election, from “using, applying, administering, enforcing or implementing any of the recently enacted 2022 maps for this or any other election in New York, included but not limited to the 2022 primary and general election for Congress, State Senate and State Assembly.”

The stay will, among other things, allow candidates for Congress, State Senate and Assembly to file designating petitions by the statutory deadline, and allow the boards of elections to accept such petitions….

The stay will not, however, prohibit Judge McAllister from retaining a “neutral expert”· to “prepare” a proposed Congressional map, if Judge McAllister elects to do so pending resolution of the appeal. Of course, any map drafted by such neutral expert would ha~e no force or effect unless and until the Court of Appeals affirms Judge McAllister’s order, and the Legislature, pursuant to the redistricting legislation, is provided with 30 days from entry of the order to ”discharge its constitutional mandate” of enacting a Congressional map that does not run afoul of the anti-gerrymandering provisions of article III, § 4 (c) of the New York Constitution. The 30-day period to cure should extend beyond the expected duration of this appeal.

The appointment of a “neutral expert” to draft proposed Congressional districts, in the event that the Court of Appeals ultimately determines that they are needed, in no way intrudes upon the Legislature’s constitutional authority to redraw a Congressional map in response to Judge McAllister’s ruling. The Legislature may begin redrawing the map right now if it chooses to do so. Or the Legislature may chose to do nothing and risk the possibility of having to live with the map drawn by Judge McAllister’s neutral expert should respondents lose before the Court of Appeals and lack sufficient time to propose a substitute map that withstands constitutional scrutiny after exhaustion of appellate remedies.

The case now is in the Appellate Division, which is an intermediary level court.The highest court in NY State is the Court of Appeals, which ultimately is expected to make a ruling. The primaries are June 28, and likely would be pushed back if the maps are overturned.

The decision could have national implications for control of the House. While Republicans are expected to do well nationally, the gerrymandered NY State map could flip 3-4 seats to Democrats based solely on redistricting. Nationally, Democrats have been doing better on redistricting fights.


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henrybowman | April 9, 2022 at 2:28 am

I guess I don’t understand… if the commission were evenly split between Ds and Rs, how did the Ds get to do everything they wanted?

    Olinser in reply to henrybowman. | April 9, 2022 at 3:04 am

    Because the RINOs are too busy crying that the media says mean things about them when they fight, and the D’s just go ahead and fucking do it.

      Milhouse in reply to Olinser. | April 9, 2022 at 10:49 pm

      Exactly the opposite. This happened because all the Republican commissioners stuck to their guns and refused to vote for a plan that would unfairly favor the Dems, and the Dems refused to compromise. If there were any RINOs involved the commission would have been able to adopt a plan.

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to henrybowman. | April 9, 2022 at 6:52 am

    Because the Republicans are spineless.

    Milhouse in reply to henrybowman. | April 9, 2022 at 10:47 pm

    Precisely because the commission was equally split. Therefore it couldn’t pass a plan unless one member voted with the other side. None did, so no plan was passed, thus leaving it to the legislature.

The board was gridlocked so nothing could get done so it sounds like Democrats took it upon themselves to resolve that gridlock their own way.

#FJB <-- Disco Stu_ | April 9, 2022 at 6:18 am

For other interested residents of New York State I can enthusiastically recommend visiting the website of the non-partisan Empire Center for Public Policy in Albany. ->

They created a very rational suggested map of reorganized congressional districts months ago. All documented with solid demographic and geographic data and historical legal research. And not so much reliance on political-party preferences or racial components.

They seem to be well known and respected in the general Albany swamp culture so perhaps someone could point this out to a judge who’s looking for a solution.

I hear Area 51 is releasing an alien from a UFO that crash landed.

What for?

He’s the only neutral expert they could find to draw a map.

2smartforlibs | April 9, 2022 at 10:39 am

Wasn’t that long ago the DNC demanded the GOP use computers to set boundries. I guess that only works one way.