To make matters worse for Democrats’ hopes of keeping control of Congress in November’s elections, an upstate New York judge on Thursday declared the state’s new Democratic-backed congressional map illegal and ordered lawmakers to redraw the boundaries.
Steuben County Supreme Court Judge Patrick McAllister found the map to be unconstitutional because it favored one political party over the other.
In February, Democratic-controlled legislators and Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law a redistricting that gave the Democratic Party an edge in 22 of the state’s 26 districts. Since population growth has been slow in recent years, the Democratic Party presently controls 19 out of the state’s 27 congressional seats.
Republicans in Texas and Georgia were largely offset by the plan, which helped erase what had been thought to be a very difficult national redistricting cycle for Democrats…
Democratic officials, including New York Attorney General Letitia James, announced they will fight the judgment.
An official for the Democratic Senate majority explained that this is just one step in the process. “We always believed the appellate courts would rule on this case.”
Republicans’ McAllister set an April 11 deadline for a new map and indicated that if lawmakers couldn’t reach an agreement, he would hire an expert to draw one. McAllister’s 18-page decision is available here.
This year’s primary elections in New York are set on June 28, and McAllister has recognized that a professionally produced map may not be completed in time.
In order to keep pace with population growth, states in the United States are required by law to redraw congressional and legislative district lines every ten years. Gerrymandering is a tactic used by political parties to redraw district boundaries in order to favor their own candidates in elections.
Democrats have suffered two redistricting setbacks in the space of a week. In a decision handed down on Friday, a Maryland judge ruled that a new Democratic-drawn map was an unconstitutional gerrymander and thus invalidated it.
Republican-favored redistricting designs have already been overturned by judges in Ohio, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
In the House of Representatives, Democrats presently hold a 222-210 advantage, with three open seats. Republicans are expected to reclaim control of the House of Representatives in November, allowing them to thwart much of Joe Biden’s legislative agenda.
Christie, the former governor of New Jersey and co-chair of the National Republican Redistricting Trust, said in a conference call with reporters that New York’s Democrats should be “ashamed of themselves for what they tried to accomplish here” in favor of Republican redistricting efforts.