WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, struck down the new congressional and state Senate maps. The court ruled that the New York Legislature did not have constitutional authority to step into the redistricting process after the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) failed to pass new maps and therefore the two maps are invalid. The court also found that the congressional map was drawn with “impermissible partisan purpose” to favor Democrats. The maps will now return to the trial court level where the judge, with the assistance of the court-appointed special master, must “adopt constitutional maps with all due haste.”
The maps have gone through a winding appeals process since a lawsuit was filed against them in early February. At the end of March, a trial court judge struck down the state’s newly-enacted congressional and legislative maps after finding that the IRC and New York Legislature did not follow the state constitution’s redistricting process and the congressional map was a partisan gerrymander. On appeal, a panel of appellate judges disagreed with the trial court judge that the maps were unconstitutionally enacted and therefore invalid. Since the legislative maps were only struck down for this procedural violation, the appellate court reinstated the state Assembly and Senate districts. However, the appellate court agreed with the trial court judge that the congressional map was drawn with partisan intent in violation of the New York Constitution. After this decision, the lawsuit went to the New York Court of Appeals, which issued its order today after oral arguments were held yesterday.