New York Supreme Court triggers redistricting, endangering House Republican majority

 December 13, 2023

The top court in liberal New York just pulled the bottom out from the GOP's tenuous House majority.

In a 4-3 ruling, the Appeals Court of New York ordered the state's congressional map to be redrawn, endangering Republican gains in the state and clearing a path for Democrats to gerrymander their way back to power.

House race shakeup

The same court had previously struck down a partisan, Democrat gerrymander prior to the 2022 midterm elections. At the time, the court was more conservative.

A court-appointed expert drew up the maps that were used in the midterms, which ended up being a disaster for New York Democrats.

Former Rep. Lee Zeldin (R) rode a backlash against urban crime to come within single digits of unseating governor Kathy Hochul (D), as Republicans down ballot flipped four seats outside of New York City, putting House Republicans back in the majority.

After the midterms, Democrats pushed for New York's maps to be redrawn for the next 10 years.

On Tuesday, the New York Court of Appeals obliged, ruling that the 2022 lines were only meant to be used for that one year.

“In 2014, the voters of New York amended our Constitution to provide that legislative districts be drawn by an Independent Redistricting Commission,” Chief Judge Rowan D. Wilson wrote. “The Constitution demands that process, not districts drawn by courts."

Rigging the game...

The court's ruling puts the so-called Independent Redistricting Commission back in charge of devising a map.

The maps would have to be approved by the Democrat-controlled legislature, which previously devised the "Hochul-mander" that was struck down last year.

“Today’s redistricting decision will ensure all New Yorkers are fairly and equitably represented by elected officials,” Hochul said Tuesday.

House Republicans' razor-thin majority got smaller with the recent expulsion of New York Rep. George Santos, which opened up a competitive seat on Long Island. Democrats have nominated Tom Suozzi, Santos' predecessor, to take the 3rd district back.

Republicans have condemned the ruling on redistricting as an attempt to rig the state's elections.

“The decision today opens the door for Democrats to rig our Congressional district lines so that elections are decided not by the voters, but by politicians in a back room,” House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik and NYGOP Chair Ed Cox said in a joint statement.

“New York Republicans will not give up the fight against gerrymandering and for free and fair elections. The people of New York deserve better than this.”

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