New York’s highest court rejects congressional map due to Democratic gerrymandering         

by mcardinal

Matt Bush, FISM News


In February New York’s Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul signed the state’s new congressional map into law which would have highly favored Democrats in future elections, starting with this year’s midterms.

Yesterday, the Court of Appeals in New York, the highest court in the state, voted 4-3 to reject that map saying in the ruling that, “the district boundaries had been unconstitutionally gerrymandered and that the Legislature hadn’t followed proper procedure in passing the maps.” 

New York Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin reacted to the ruling, saying it was “excellent news” as it “tossed the hyper-partisan, gerrymandered Congressional and State Senate maps for the state.”

The redistricting plan, according to Fox News, “realigned 22 districts into heavily Democratic areas and 4 districts into Republican areas, which could have resulted in up to four GOP seats in Congress being wiped out in November.” 

As it stands, New York holds 27 Congressional seats and one of those will be taken away this year to bring the total down to 26. Republicans currently hold eight of those seats while Democrats hold 19. Under the new gerrymandered districts, the count would have been 22-4 in favor of Democrats effectively taking away 4 seats from Republicans and adding 3 for Democrats.

A CNN article called the redistricting attempt, “a blow to Democrats, as they had viewed redistricting in New York as one of their best chances to shape district lines in their favor.” With many experts predicting Republicans to take control of at least the House in 2022, this redistricting could be seen as an attempt by Democrats to keep power.

In 2014, New York voters created a process by which new district maps would be drawn by an independent, bipartisan commission. When that commission failed to create a finalized version of the congressional maps, the New York State Legislature drew and enacted their own. This legislative body, however, is made up of 105 Democrats and 43 Republicans, and it is that legislature that passed the gerrymandered districts.

According to NBC News, Democrats defended their redistricting attempt in court as, “a lawful solution to the commission’s failure and argued that the congressional map that Republicans claimed was a partisan gerrymander had actually been designed to protect minority voting rights.”

The court disagreed, siding with the Republican voters who brought the suit, stating, “that the Legislature had clearly defined anti-gerrymandering reforms by doing exactly what they would have done had the 2014 constitutional reforms never been passed.”

Gerrymandering is a legislative body’s attempt to draw voter districting maps in a way in which their party will win as many seats as possible, and both sides have accused the other of this over the years. What was attempted in New York, however, was seen as an extreme version of political positioning, prompting Michael Li, a redistricting expert at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, to call the Democrats’ proposed redistricting map a “master class in gerrymandering.”