Court of Appeals rejects state Senate and congressional district lines submitted by Legislature

Legislative Gazette file photo

The New York State Court of Appeals on Wednesday ruled that the proposed congressional and New York State Senate election district lines were improperly drawn and is ordering that new ones be drawn by a nonpartisan special master.

“The enactment of the congressional and Senate maps by the Legislature was procedurally unconstitutional, and the congressional map is also substantively unconstitutional as drawn with impermissible partisan purpose, leaving the state without constitutional district lines for use in the 2022 primary and general elections,” the ruling states.

The court acknowledged the process will delay primary elections, originally schedules for June.

“We are cognizant of the logistical difficulties involved in preparing for and executing an election — and appreciate that rescheduling a primary election impacts administrative officials, candidates for public office, and the voters themselves,” Chief Judge Janet DiFiore wrote for the majority in a 4-3 ruling. “Like the courts below, however, we are not convinced that we have no choice but to allow the 2022 primary election to proceed on unconstitutionally enacted and gerrymandered maps. With judicial supervision and the support of a neutral expert designated a special master, there is sufficient time for the adoption of new district lines.

“Although it will likely be necessary to move the congressional and senate primary elections to August, New York routinely held a bifurcated primary until recently, with some primaries occurring as late as September,” the ruling continues. “We are confident that, in consultation with the Board of Elections, Supreme Court can swiftly develop a schedule to facilitate an August primary election, allowing time for the adoption of new constitutional maps, the dissemination of correct information to voters, the completion of the petitioning process, and compliance with federal voting laws.”

The Court of Appeals, the highest appellate court in New York, affirmned a lower court ruling that previously determined the new district lines to be “drawn with impermissible partisan purpose.”

State Republican Party Chairman Nick Langowrthy issued the following statement: “The Hochulmander has officially been defeated. This is a huge victory for free and fair elections in New York. This case rose to the highest level of the state’s court system and at every stage, even the partisan-appointed Democrat judges couldn’t swallow how filthy this gerrymander was. It bears reminding that in her first major interview after ascending to governor Kathy Hochul admitted that was her intention all along. This was an outrageous, brazen attempt to rig the election and violate the constitutional rights of every citizen in this state and Democrats suffered the defeat they deserved. Next up, November.”

The state Senate Democratic majority issued a statement saying, “We are reviewing the decision.”