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Editorial:

Maps tossed

Posted 4/5/22

districting maps after a state judge ruled on Thursday that the proposed lines for congressional, state senate and assembly seats would give Democrats an unfair advantage.

Last week’s ruling …

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Editorial:

Maps tossed

Posted

districting maps after a state judge ruled on Thursday that the proposed lines for congressional, state senate and assembly seats would give Democrats an unfair advantage.

Last week’s ruling by Steuben County Supreme Court Judge Patrick McAlister throws fresh uncertainty into the primaries scheduled for June 28, where candidates have already been campaigning in their presumed new districts.

“The court finds by clear evidence and beyond a reasonable doubt that the congressional maps were unconstitutionally drawn with political bias …” Justice McAlister wrote in an 18-page ruling issued on March 31.

As reported in the Democrat on February 11, The Democrat-controlled State Assembly and Senate passed the new maps before they were approved by Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul. It didn’t take long for the redistricting lines to draw criticism from state Republicans, who filed a lawsuit claiming the maps were gerrymandered to unfairly favor Democratic candidates.

New York took major steps in 2014 to avoid gerrymandering by amending the State Constitution.


“The 2020 census was the first time after the constitutional amendment that led New York to draw new districts, therefore, this is a case of first impression in many respects,” wrote Judge McAlister.

In response to the New York Supreme Court’s rejection of the state’s current redistricting plans, Governor Kathy Hochul and New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a joint statement declaring their intent to appeal this decision.

Democrats could challenge last week’s ruling in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court or the State Court of Appeals.

Allegations of gerrymandering in the redistricting process are not unique to New York. Courts across the country have been striking down gerrymandered maps in both Republican and Democratic controlled states.

“The flood of rulings reflects an emerging reality: that state courts, rather than federal ones, have become a primary firewall against gerrymandering as both Democrats and Republicans try to carve out maximum advantages in the maps they control,” writes Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein in a New York Times Article published on April 2. “The parties have been emboldened to do so by a 2019 Supreme Court decision that federal courts cannot hear challenges to partisan gerrymandering, though they can still hear challenges to racial gerrymandering.”

Gerrymandering should always cause concern, whether it happens in red states or blue states. New Yorkers deserve fair maps that accurately apportion residents to districts based on census data, not political affiliation.

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