WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last night, a New York appellate court issued a decision regarding the fate of New York’s congressional and legislative maps. The newly-enacted districts were struck down in March after a trial court judge found that the New York Legislature did not follow the state constitution’s redistricting process by bypassing the citizen-led Independent Redistricting Commission’s authority. The trial court judge also held that the congressional map was unconstitutionally drawn with political bias and ordered both congressional and legislative maps to be redrawn. The state immediately appealed this decision, which paused the trial court’s ruling.
In its order last night, a plurality of the New York appellate court disagreed with the trial court that the maps were unconstitutionally enacted and were invalid as a result. Given that the Commission failed to pass any new districts, the Legislature stepped into the process — and, the appellate court noted, nothing in the state constitution “expressly prohibits the legislature from assuming its historical role of redistricting and reapportionment if the IRC fails to complete its own constitutional duty.” Because the legislative maps were only struck down for this procedural violation, the appellate court reinstated the state Assembly and Senate districts. However, even though the court found that the process was legally valid, it did agree with the trial court that the congressional map was drawn with partisan intent “to discourage competition and favor democrats in violation” of the New York Constitution. The court gave the Legislature until April 30 to enact a new congressional map.