Appeals Court Orders New York to Re-Draw Congressional Maps – Again

On Tuesday, July 11th, the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court ruled that the state’s bipartisan Independent Redistricting Commission must restart the process of redrawing the State’s congressional maps. Siding with the Democrats, the court said that the competitive districts drawn by court-appointed Special Master Jonathan R. Cervas last year, and led to Republicans flipping four seats, were only a temporary fix. The court’s decision would give the State Legislature final say over the congressional lines for the rest of the decade. “In granting this petition, we return the matter to its constitutional design,” Justice Elizabeth A. Garry wrote in the majority opinion. “Accordingly, we direct the I.R.C. to commence its duties forthwith.”

U.S. House Democratic Leader, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries praised the court’s ruling, saying the current map is undemocratic because its lines were “drawn by an unelected, out-of-town Special Master appointed by an extreme right-wing judge, who himself was handpicked by partisan political operatives.” Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik and New York State Republican Party Chairman said in a joint statement saying, “The Court of Appeals must overturn this ruling, or Democrats will gerrymander the map to target political opponents and protect political allies.” On Tuesday, July 25th, a group of Republicans filed a formal appeal to the ruling, which will bring the issue of redistricting back to the Court of Appeals for the second time in two years.

This would be the second time in two years that a redistricting case will be decided by the Court of Appeals. Last year, after the IRC failed to meet their deadline, the Democrat-controlled State Legislature drew and approved the lines for the Congress, the State Senate and State Assembly. Republicans sued and the Court of Appeals ruled that Democrats had gerrymandered and possibly violated the 2014 redistricting procedures. It then stripped the Legislature of its redistricting authority and appointed a neutral Special Master to redraw the maps. However, the court has moved decidedly leftward since last year’s lawsuit after Rowan D. Wilson, who dissented from the Court’s 2022 decision, became Chief Judge.