A New York judge on Thursday blocked the state’s new congressional map from taking effect, saying it represented an unconstitutional gerrymander that would benefit Democrats.
State Supreme Court Judge Patrick McAllister of Steuben County ordered New York lawmakers to draw a new map that would receive bipartisan support or the court will “retain a neutral expert at State expense to prepare said maps.”
Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, signed the Congressional map that would have given Democrats an advantage for 22 of the state’s 26 congressional seats in February.
In his ruling, McAllister said the Democratic-controlled legislature violated a 2014 constitutional amendment that gave primary control over map redistricting to a bipartisan commission, as the legislature took over the process when the commission failed to agree on a map.
The result was a map that “was unconstitutionally drawn with political bias” and created no competitive seats, McAllister ruled.
Thursday’s ruling marked a reversal from earlier this month when McAllister said it was not likely there would be enough time for the maps to be redrawn after Republicans requested to halt New York’s election process.
New York’s primary is scheduled for June 28 but the ruling says the election may be postponed until as late as Aug. 23 if new maps aren’t agreed upon.
Former Republican state Rep. John Faso, one of the leaders of the map challenge, praised the ruling.
“New York has an explicit constitutional prohibition on partisan gerrymandering. The Democrats violated that prohibition. They did it knowingly, they did it willingly, they did it joyfully. And the court struck them down,” Faso said.
Democrats pledged to appeal the ruling, which Mike Murphy, communications director for Democrats in the state Senate, described as “one step in the process.”
“We always knew this case would be decided by the appellate courts,” Murphy said. “We are appealing this decision and expect this decision will be stayed as the appeal process proceeds.”
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