The New York Court of Appeals on Tuesday permitted the Democratic-controlled state Legislature to redraw its congressional district maps for 2024’s elections.
In 2022, the court invalidated maps originally drawn by a redistricting commission and approved by the state Legislature due to partisan gerrymandering in favor of Democrats, and ordered a special master to redraw the maps neutrally. The new maps — which compelled many House Democrats to compete in primaries against each other in the 2022 midterms — were challenged by a group of independent voters who sought to have the state’s redistricting commission redraw the maps, with the voters prevailing on appeal at the court in the judgment rendered on Tuesday.
“The plain text of the 2014 amendments to the Constitution places express limitations on court-drawn maps. Following the enactment of the 2014 amendments, New York courts no longer have the blanket authority to create decade-long redistricting plans. Instead, the Constitution now limits court-drawn redistricting to the minimum required to remedy a violation of law,” wrote the Court of Appeals on Tuesday, in an opinion authored by Chief Judge Rowan Wilson. The court, all of whose members were appointed by Democratic governors, decided the appeal in a split 4-3 decision, with the dissenting judges being appointees of former Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The special master-drawn district maps in 2022 resulted in high-profile Democratic primary contests, such as between Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler and then-Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York for a combined district representing midtown Manhattan, while then-Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, compelled his colleague Mondaire Jones to not run in his home county, with both later losing their races.
By contrast, Republican candidates won several competitive races in New York, particularly in the suburban areas surrounding New York City. These included Nick LaLota of the 1st District, Anthony D’Esposito of the 4th District, Mike Lawler of the 17th District and Marc Molinaro of the 19th District, whose victories were important to ensuring House Republicans obtained a five-seat majority in the 118th Congress.
“The court’s decision to redraw New York’s Congressional maps is a big victory to ensure our electoral process is transparent and follows our state’s constitution,” wrote Democratic Attorney Gen. Letitia James of New York in a post on Twitter, now known as X. “A HUGE WIN for voters of New York. My litigation team is the [greatest of all time],” wrote Marc Elias, a longtime pro-Democratic elections attorney, whose firm represented the plaintiffs in the case.
The decision means that the IRC will be required to present new draft congressional maps for the state by Feb. 28, 2024, which must then be approved by the state Legislature. Akin to 2022, the new maps could result in several supportive areas for both incumbent members reallocated, affecting their competitiveness in the next election.
“We are disappointed but not surprised by the Court’s decision to allow Democrats a second attempt at gerrymandering the maps. Instead of focusing on policies that appeal to everyday voters, Democrats are trying to cheat their way to power,” wrote National Republican Congressional Committee spokesperson Savannah Viar in an email to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
Arjun Singh on December 12, 2023