• Wed. Aug 10th, 2022

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Breaking: Judge tosses out NY’s new redistricted maps, declaring them unconstitutional – Gothamist

A Steuben County judge has struck down the recently redrawn congressional and legislative maps for New York, ordering the state Legislature to “submit bipartisanly supported maps” by April 11th and setting up a likely battle in the state’s top court.

In an 18-page ruling, Acting State Supreme Court Judge Patrick F. McAllister said the maps, drawn every 10 years after the latest U.S. Census count, were unconstitutionally and politically drawn by the Democrat-controlled state Legislature. McAllister said the maps are “void and not usable.”

If the ruling stands, it could force the state to push back its June 28th primary. As of Thursday, petitioning to get on the primary ballot was scheduled to wrap up during the first week of April, and the process has been based on the maps at the center of the court case.

The state Legislature started drawing the maps in January after the state-sanctioned Independent Redistricting Commission, created following a change in the state constitution in 2014, failed to agree upon a set of bipartisan maps. The hope among good government groups for the creation of the IRC was to take politics out of the map-making process and avoid partisan gerrymandering.

The ruling dealt a blow to Democratic lawmakers who sought to draw maps many good government groups said suited the party’s political needs. A spokesman for Senate Democrats said they will appeal the ruling and anticipate receiving a stay, which would temporarily block it from taking effect.

“This is one step in the process,” said Mike Murphy, the spokesman. “We always knew this case would be decided by the appellate courts. We are appealing this decision and expect this decision will be stayed as the appeal process proceeds.”

Democrats anticipate the appeal will go directly to the Court of Appeals, the state’s top court.

Under McAllister’s ruling, the court would hire its own people to draw new maps at the state’s expense if lawmakers were unable to submit a plan by April 11th.

McAllister warned that should the state Legislature fail to reach a consensus and leave the court-appointed mapmakers to conceive new lines, the primary could be pushed no later than August 23rd. Candidates seeking office will once again have to spend another couple of weeks collecting signatures to get on the ballot for the newly redrawn maps.

McAllister’s ruling drew praise from former Hudson Valley Rep. John Faso, who has been serving as the Republican Party’s de facto spokesman for its redistricting lawsuit.

The decision is “a victory for the People of the State of New York,” Faso said.

This story has been updated with new information. Brigid Bergin and Jon Campbell contributed reporting.