WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, Oct. 2, Democrats on New York’s Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) released a statement asking for public input on the state’s congressional map.
The statement comes as the New York Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, is considering an appeal of a lower court decision that ordered the IRC to draw a new congressional map. The lower court decision has been paused pending appeal since July, and last month the state’s highest court declined to unpause the decision.
Back in June 2022, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of New York voters alleging that the IRC — which was formed thanks to a voter-approved constitutional amendment in 2014 — did not fulfill its duties as constitutionally required. Specifically, these voters point to the IRC’s failure to submit a second set of congressional and legislative maps to the New York Legislature after its first set of maps were rejected.
Then, in July 2023, an appellate state court ordered the IRC to draw a new congressional map. Republican intervenors quickly appealed this decision to the state’s highest court, which will now determine the fate of New York’s congressional map. Oral argument in the case is scheduled for Nov. 15. Though the high court declined to unpause the appellate court’s decision while it considers the intervenors’ appeal, the court’s order, as the Democratic commissioners point out, “does not prohibit the IRC or its members from taking any actions.” Accordingly, the Democrats on the commission want to ensure public input is heard if the high court does indeed order a new plan for the state’s congressional map.
Although the IRC has already held public hearings on proposals for the state’s congressional map as required by the New York Constitution, the Democratic commissioners said that any input received would be available to all IRC members and their staff. New Yorkers interested in providing feedback are encouraged to do so by emailing or mailing the commission their thoughts.
With Democrats on the commission now having shown their commitment to restarting the map drawing process, it remains to be seen whether Republicans on the IRC will cooperate, as they have refused to do so previously.