ALBANY — The GOP wasted no time in filing a lawsuit against the Democratic Party for what it describes as blatant gerrymandering with the new congressional map.
The 67-page lawsuit was filed Feb. 3 with the state Supreme Court in Steuben County, a GOP gripped section of the state in the Southern Tier. That was the same day Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the map bill into law.
A group of 14 Republicans directed the legal challenge at Hochul, top New York Democratic lawmakers, the state board of elections, and the state redistricting task force, professing the new law as unconstitutional.
Arguing the district lines violate the 2014 state constitutional amendment protecting voters against partisan district drawing, the Republicans charged the Democrats with “brazenly enacting a congressional map that is undeniably politically gerrymandered in their party’s favor,” according to court documents.
The maps as written give Democrats — who already hold a majority of 19 congressional seats to the GOP’s eight congressional seats — 22 of 26 congressional districts in 2023 if the law stands as signed, leaving Republicans with an advantage in only four seats in the remaining districts.
One congressional seat in New York state was lost due to population loss as recorded in the latest U.S. Census.
The 2014 amendment was created to allow a 10-member bipartisan committee, made up of five Democrats and five Republicans, to draw the map together, ensure fairness and prohibit gerrymandering, which had run rampant in the state for years.
However, the committee continually broke down in January and not being able to find common ground, the responsibility reverted back to the state legislature, where the Dems hold a power majority in both the Senate and the Assembly.
According to court records, the lawsuit asks the state Supreme Court to declare New York’s proposed congressional map untenable and either send it back to policymakers or have the court themselves redraw it.
Mike Murphy, spokesperson for State Senate Democratic Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, said they are 100 percent confident the lines are in compliance with all legal requirements.
“They (the lines) are a gigantic step forward for fairer representation and reflect the strength and diversity of New York like never before,” Murphy said.
The judge in the case has the authority to either support or discard the map and send it back to the legislature to redraw, or appoint a nonpartisan third-party to do it should the legislature be unable to satisfy the court.
If that decision is unacceptable, the case could be sent to the Court of Appeals.
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