Republicans File Legal Challenge to Overturn NY’s Redistricted Congressional Maps

Republicans File Legal Challenge to Overturn NY’s Redistricted Congressional Maps

By Yehudit Garmaise

After the New York legislature approved on Feb. 2 the re-drawing of U.S. Congressional districts in such a way as to boost Democratic candidates in 22 of 26 districts, New York Republicans wasted no time before filing a legal challenge.

On Feb. 3, the same night that Gov. Kathy Hochul signed all the newly drawn district lines into law, the suit’s lead attorney George Winner, who once served in the state Senate, filed a lawsuit in the state Supreme Court in Steuben County on the grounds that the Democrats who control the state legislature failed to adhere to the changes in the redistricting process according to the legislature's 2014 amendments to the NY state constitution.

Among the changes to the New York constitution to create fair re-districting maps was the creation of an independent, bipartisan panel called the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC), which this year was unable to agree on a single set of maps that was approved by the legislature.

Although IRC was then supposed to send a second, revised proposal to the legislature for consideration, the quarrelling independent commission never did, and the legislature took over the process: perhaps prematurely.

In fact, Republicans says that the members of the Democratic Caucus of the IRC did not submit a “compromise congressional map” after they received encouragement to “undermine the constitutional process from Democratic Party politicians and officials,” the lawsuit claims.

The New York Republicans also argue that the district maps were drawn to benefit a particular person or party, in what is called “gerrymandering.” 

The sometimes irregularly drawn districts are not in line with the 2014 constitutional amendments that required the IRC to draw districts that touch, share a common border, and are “compact as possible.”

Boro Park’s 10th U.S. Congressional District, for example, is often singled out by even left-wing media outlets as particularly strangely drawn, as it starts in the Upper West Side in Manhattan and then winds south through many diverse neighborhoods that do not share common political interests, as many advocates say districts should.

After the more liberal neighborhoods of Park Slope and Sunset Park were added to Staten Island’s traditionally conservative 11th U.S. Congressional district, U.S. Rep Nicole Malliotakis (R) cried foul, and former Mayor Bill de Blasio made some calls to run for her seat.

The state legislature also re-drew state Senate and Assembly district lines, so as to also add Democratic neighborhoods to more conservative ones to strengthen the Democratic vote, however, the Republicans are expected to update their lawsuit to similarly challenge the districts of elected officials at the state level. 

BDE: Reb Lazer Freund, z”l, Holocaust survivor.
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