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New York court considers redrawing Congressional map amid gerrymandering concerns

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  • Staff Report 

The New York state Court of Appeals, comprising a seven-judge panel, heard arguments Wednesday regarding the possibility of allowing the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) another opportunity to redraw the state’s congressional map.

This follows a period where an independent special master drew the lines under judicial oversight for the 2022 elections. The state’s highest court had previously determined that the IRC failed in its constitutional duty, and there was evidence of gerrymandering in the map drawn by the state Legislature.

Petitioners in the latest lawsuit, including state entities and various attorneys, are advocating for the IRC to reconvene and create new maps. They argue that the map created under court direction last year was a temporary measure, necessitated by the urgency of the impending election. The petitioners stress that new maps should better reflect the intentions of a 2014 constitutional amendment, voted for by the state’s citizens, which aimed to ensure fair and lawful redistricting processes.

However, attorneys representing the original Republican-led intervenors argue against the drawing of new maps until after the 2030 federal Census. They maintain that the current court-drawn maps are the appropriate solution, asserting that the Constitution does not permit mid-decade revisions unless the existing lines are defective. Additionally, they argue that the petitioners missed the deadlines for such actions.

The outcome of this legal debate is significant, as the New York Republicans gained four seats in the House of Representatives in the 2022 elections. With the GOP holding a narrow margin of power nationally, the court’s decision could have substantial implications. The judges noted that if they allow the IRC another chance, the new lines must be distinctly different from the previous gerrymandered state Legislature-drawn map.