A mid-level appeals court ruled New York Democrats are guilty of drawing illegal congressional district maps favoring their own party.
The five-judge panel wrote that Democrats unconstitutionally drew up congressional districts “to discourage competition or for the purpose of favoring or disfavoring incumbents or other particular candidates or political parties.” Two of the judges dissented.
Fox News reports:
The judges said that Democratic lawmakers drafted the 2022 congressional redistricting map “without any Republican input, and the map was adopted by the legislature without a single Republican vote n favor of it.”
A group of Republican voters had argued that the maps amounted to gerrymandering and filed a lawsuit in state court asking to have the maps to be tossed out and to delay the June congressional primaries until late August. They say this would give the state enough time to draw up new maps.
Democrats’ attorneys said the maps are more than fair to Republicans, who lost their decadeslong control of the state Senate in 2018 but have won some swing districts. Democrats say the new maps protect minority voting rights and reflect population loss in upstate communities once considered Republican strongholds.
Democrats also said there isn’t enough time to change the maps for 2022 races, and urged the judges should toss the lawsuit.
A lower-court judge declared last month that New York’s new maps were unconstitutionally gerrymandered, and said the legislative maps should also be tossed because lawmakers exceeded their authority when they passed them.
Gov. Kathy Hochul and attorneys for the state Senate appealed the lower-court ruling and said the judge was wrongly limiting the Legislature’s power.
On Wednesday, a panel of five mid-level appellate judges began hearing arguments. The case will now be heard by New York’s top court where oral arguments could be as early as next week.
The decision will have major implications for Democrats going into the June 28 primary ahead of the midterm elections in November.