UPDATE: On Monday, April 24, the New York state Senate and Assembly voted to approve the IRC’s proposed state Assembly map. The plan will now go to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) for her signature.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, April 20, New York’s Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) voted 9-1 to pass a new state Assembly map. The map will now go to the Legislature for approval. The IRC had until April 28, 2023 to reconvene and pass a new Assembly map as a result of a ruling in a lawsuit filed by three New York voters challenging the state’s new Assembly map drawn with 2020 census data. In the lawsuit challenging the Assembly map, the petitioners argue that the map violates the New York Constitution, which was amended in 2014 to create a commission to draw redistricting maps, because the Legislature bypassed the citizen-led IRC’s authority to enact the districts.
The petitioners asked the state trial court to strike down the Assembly map for violating the New York Constitution, but the trial court denied the petitioners’ requests and subsequently denied their petition. The petitioners appealed this decision to the appellate court, which agreed that the Assembly map was enacted through an unconstitutional process but it was too late to adopt a new map for the 2022 elections. The appellate court sent the case back to the trial court “for consideration of the proper means for redrawing the state assembly map” for post-2022 elections. On Sept. 29, a trial court judge ordered the IRC to reconvene and pass a new Assembly map by April 28, 2023 and this decision was affirmed by a New York appellate court in early 2023. However, on Feb. 15, 2023, the petitioners appealed this decision to the state’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals, which will ultimately decide the fate of these maps.
Now, the Assembly map passed by the IRC will go to the Legislature for a vote and then to the governor for approval. If either chamber of the Legislature fails to approve the new map or if the map is vetoed by the governor, the IRC must prepare a second proposed redistricting plan by June 16, 2023. Notably, litigation in the appeal before the state’s highest court will determine if the process for passing the new state Assembly map is legal.