A New York Appeals Court this week upheld a lower-court ruling that the Democrat-led legislature illegally gerrymandered newly drawn congressional districts and upheld the lower court ruling to redraw the maps by April 30 or a court-appointed neutral expert would do it.
A five-judge panel Appellate Division in Rochester, in a mixed ruling, said the Dems drew the new House map “to discourage competition and favor Democrats,” and knowingly ignored the will of voters who approved in a referendum a constitutional amendment outlawing partisan redistricting.
“We are satisfied that petitioners established beyond a reasonable doubt that the Legislature acted with partisan intent,” a three-judge majority wrote in its opinion. Two judges dissented.
The ruling, however, struck down the lower court ruling that state senate and assembly lines would also have to be redrawn.
The redrawn congressional lines clearly gave Democrats an advantage in 22 of the state’s 26 congressional districts by shifting voters favorable to their party. In New York City, this was most obvious in Republican U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis district that currently includes mainly the GOP stronghold of Staten Island and contiguous parts of Southern Brooklyn, which is more conservative.
In the redrawn lines, this southern part of Brooklyn was cut out, except for a narrow strip so the district would include the liberal Democratic stronghold of Park Slope.
“Two different courts have now said Governor Hochul and the Democrat-controlled legislature broke the law and drew an unconstitutional Congressional map in a blatant attempt to tilt the scale in the upcoming elections, end NYC’s bi-partisan representation in Congress and silence the voices of conservative New Yorkers such as those residing in Staten Island and Southern Brooklyn,” Malliotakis told Fox News. “We are encouraged by the action of both courts and we await the new district maps.”
Meanwhile, Mike Murphy, a spokesman for Senate Democrats, told the NYTimes they were “pleased” that the appeals court had validated the Legislature’s right to draw the maps this year, and predicted the higher court would reinstate the congressional maps as well.
“We always knew this case would end at the Court of Appeals and look forward to being heard on our appeal to uphold the congressional map as well,” he said.
Gov. Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James are expected to immediately appeal the decision to the New York Court of Appeals – the state’s highest court. The judges there, all of whom were appointed by Democratic governors, are expected to render a final verdict as soon as next week.