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New York’s Highest Court Opens the Way for NY Dems “Redistricting Republicans Out of Existence”

New York’s Highest Court Opens the Way for NY Dems “Redistricting Republicans Out of Existence”

New York’s Court of Appeals throws out 2022’s non-gerrymandered Congressional maps, which will likely lead to the Democrat-controlled New York legislature redrawing the maps

As Professor Jacobson reported in the run-up to last year’s Congressional elections, the New York Court of Appeals (New York’s highest court) threw out a “Democrat Gerrymandered Congressional Map ‘Drawn with an Unconstitutional Partisan Intent'”:

New York State Democrats designed a congressional redistricting map that was so egregious that a judge threw it out, Judge Throws Out NY State’s Democrat Gerrymandered Congressional Map “Unconstitutionally Drawn With Political Bias”.

The Appellate Division, the intermediary appeal court, upheld the trial judge’s decision as to congressional redistricting.

The Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, heard argument on April 26…

The Court of Appeals just ruled, throwing out the Democrat map and appointing a special master to redraw the districts.

As we reported in July of this year:

Those maps achieved the intended purpose, minimal redistricting and competitive districts. Republicans ended up gaining four seats, but not because of gerrymandered maps, because of voters.

Think about what that means. Because, in 2022, New York’s highest court threw out Democrat gerrymandered maps, Republicans currently enjoy a wafer-thin majority in the House. But if the maps had remained as-is, the Democrats would control the House, Senate, and Presidency.

Which is exactly what they want.

So, of course, Democrats immediately launched litigation after the 2022 election to limit the damage to the 2022 election cycle, and in July of this year, as we reported, the New York Intermediate Appeals Court, the Appellate Division, agreed with the Democrats: NY Dems Get Another Run At Redistricting Republicans Out of Existence After Mid-Level Appeals Court Orders New Mapping:

If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.

That’s the Democrats’ motto in New York State when it comes to redistricting. We covered the story in the run up to the 2022 elections. When the supposedly non-partisan state election commission deadlocked over redistricting, Democrats who control the state legislature so furiously and outrageously gerrymandered the redistricting map so as to all but eliminate the Republican congressional delegation. The state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, found the actions violated the NY State constitution. The Court of Appeals ordered that maps prepared by a neutral expert hired by the Court be used….

Democrats hated [the new maps], so they put their go-to election lawyer, Marc Elias, on the case, and he just obtained a coup d’état from the state’s mid-level appellate court, the Appellate Division. The Appellate Division asserted that the Court of Appeals decision was only intended for one election cycle, 2022, and was not meant to be a redistricting for the entire census cycle (10 years). So the Appellate Division ordered the state redistricting commission to issue new maps….

Even the NY Times knows what comes next unless the Court of Appeals reverses – the election commission deadlocks again, and the Democratic legislature tries again to redistrict Republicans of existence:

Democrats filed a new lawsuit last year, paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, arguing that those maps were meant to be temporary and asking the courts to force the bipartisan commission to complete its work.

Though the commission would have the first shot at drawing the new maps under Thursday’s ruling, both parties expected the panel to deadlock again. That would send the final mapmaking authority back to the Legislature — only this time with the blessing of the courts.

Republicans are trying to block that possibility. On Thursday, party leaders said they would appeal.

“The Court of Appeals must overturn this ruling, or Democrats will gerrymander the map to target political opponents and protect political allies,” Representative Elise Stefanik said in a joint statement with Edward Cox, the top New York House Republican and state party chairman.

Well, we just found out that New York’s highest court has agreed with the Democrats, holding that the non-gerrymandered Congressional maps were limited to only the 2022 election cycle. From the 4-3 opinion:

Court-drawn judicial districts are generally disfavored because redistricting is predominantly legislative…[and] to prefer a court-drawn plan to a legislature’s replacement would be contrary to the ordinary and proper orientation of the political process…court-ordered redistricting [is prohibited] “except to the extent that a court is required to order the adoption of, or changes to, a redistricting plan as a remedy for a violation of law….[New York’s] 2014 constitutional reforms unambiguously promised New York’s citizens an IRC redistricting process with minimal resort to court-drawn districts—only to the extent required to remedy a violation of law.

Consistent with our opinion and the Appellate Division’s direction, the IRC should comply with its constitutional mandate by submitting to the legislature, on the earliest possible date, but in no event later than February 28, 2024, a second congressional redistricting plan and implementing legislation. Accordingly, the order of the Appellate Division should be affirmed.

That might sound good, but it means that last year’s non-gerrymandered maps are now history, and practically speaking (based on prior experience), the New York IRC (Independent Redistricting Commission) will deadlock again as they have in the past, which will open the way for the Democrat-controlled New York State legislature to redraw its own grossly gerrymandered maps just in time for the 2024 elections.

From the blistering dissent:

Less than a decade ago, the People of this State amended the New York Constitution to mandate that partisanship be kept out of the decennial redistricting process…At their first opportunity, the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) and legislature failed to follow the constitutional process for enacting redistricting legislation and disobeyed the Constitution’s anti-gerrymandering mandate, requiring this Court to act…Redistricting plans were drafted by a neutral special master in accordance with our decision in Harkenrider, certified by Supreme Court, and then used in the 2022 election, producing a fair and competitive election consistent with the overarching goals of the 2014 constitutional reforms prohibiting gerrymandering.

Today, even though the constitutionality of the existing district lines has not been substantively challenged, the majority reverses course. Recasting the judiciary’s long history of safeguarding New Yorkers’ right to free and fair elections as the problem in need of correction—with political gerrymandering meriting barely any mention in the majority decision—the Court today strictly curtails the constitutional authority of the judiciary to remedy future legislative overreach, rewriting the Constitution in order to do so…

Under the plain language of the Constitution, the maps we ordered in Harkenrider must remain “in force until the effective date of a plan based upon the subsequent federal decennial census . . . unless modified pursuant to court order” to remedy a violation of law… Since the only violation of law alleged in this proceeding is the previous breakdown of the redistricting process this Court remedied in Harkenrider, there is no constitutional basis for this Court to order a new congressional map. The majority’s holding to the contrary manufactures a new violation of law to justify overruling Harkenrider,…and elevates a failed process above the People’s substantive rights to free and fair elections. The majority is able to reach this result for one reason and one reason only: because the composition of this Court has changed.

It is looking like 2024 is going to be a rough go for Republicans in the House.


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UnCivilServant | December 13, 2023 at 7:10 am

When is the Census fraud going to be addressed and the number of congressional seats New York is clinging onto going to be further reduced to reflect the actual population? There was a bunch of blue state overreporting in 2020 that saved at least one NY seat from being sent to a more deserving state.

One seat at a time. The goal of the Republican’s isn’t to enact the will of the electorate. The role of the Republicans is to act as a pressure release valve so we peacefully watch our country be made to fail.

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to Dathurtz. | December 13, 2023 at 7:42 am

    To me, they are not The Stupid Party; they are The Spineless Party.

      I don’t even think they are spineless. They are just mostly on the other team. They have a lot of spine when it comes to standing up against conservative ideals or any time they should reverse some progressive nonsense.

      I don’t think their actions can be understood well through any other lens than what I said in my previous comment. I wish they were just spineless cowards. But, they are worse.

SCOTUS upheld the lower court ruling in the Alabama redistricting case which overturned its map that it did so b/c ‘voters must have the ability to elect candidates of their choice’. So the CD map that met every criteria other than an explicit racial majority was tossed; though it did have a close 47 d/prog to 53 GoP composition by voter registration which seems pretty competitive.

This NY situation is a political v racial redraw. Don’t look for help from the Federal courts in NY as SCOTUS ruled in ’19 that Federal CT have no role in redistricting for ‘partisan political reasons’ as opposed to manufacturing and maintaining ‘majority minority’ districts. Of course in reality in these majority minority districts race is used as a proxy for d/prog political affiliation. This tension between the two is unstable. Sooner or later this will get resolved. Maybe sooner if polling holds up and minority voters begin to abandon the d/prog and become willing to vote GoP. In that situation, where ‘majority minority’ districts begin to consistently elect GoP candidates, I expect a sudden reversal among the usual d/prog suspects as the fairness of these districts existing solely on racial grounds.

Cartography is racist!

NY under one party rule dem super majority. Other parties are allowed to exist but not win. Controlled opposition. Same CA.

One problem is- 435 members of the house is both too small and unconstitutional- but the larger states haven’t acted to ensure their people are properly represented in the house. (and they should call for repeal of the 17th amendment so that senators represent the state… but that’ another story).

The words of the original unamended Constitution and the 14th amendment are unambiguous: Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers,

Population of NY 2020 census: 20,201,249
Population of WY 2020 census: 576,851

35, not 26, is required for NY to be represented according to it’s respective numbers when the smallest state, WY, has 1. Simple easy to understand math. Most states would see an increase in numbers.

But, but- Congress would be too unwieldy with more people! Yeah, so? The current largest legislative assembly is the Chinese National People’s Congress, which consists of 2980 i members. With state population divided by smallest state population we’d be at about 575 or so. And if we went with districts of 30,000, the smallest permitted by the unamended constitution, WY would have 19 and NY 673… but >11,000 congresscritters might be a few too many. Might be.

    Milhouse in reply to gospace. | December 14, 2023 at 8:56 am

    That’s not just bullshit but obvious and deliberate bullshit. Because whatever the ratio is now, it was much greater in the first congress. The one-seat states are explicitly exempted from the proportionality requirement, and it’s dishonest to calculate the ratio using them.

    Milhouse in reply to gospace. | December 14, 2023 at 8:57 am

    repeal of the 17th amendment so that senators represent the state

    That’s more bullshit. The senators do represent the state. The state is the people, not the legislators.

and practically speaking (based on prior experience), the New York IRC (Independent Redistricting Commission) will deadlock again as they have in the past, which will open the way for the Democrat-controlled New York State legislature to redraw its own grossly gerrymandered maps

Whereupon the court would once again throw it out, as it did last time. The only way the legislature’s map survives court review will be if it’s not grossly gerrymandered, so they can plausibly claim that it’s not gerrymandered at all.

Democrats demand unlimited do-overs UNTIL their side wins. This has been Democrat SOP since at least Reagan.