By: Samuel Wonacott
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- Redistricting roundup
- America’s Next Top Pet Tournament results!
- Upton announces retirement from Congress
The latest redistricting news from Louisiana, Maryland, and New York
We’re back with another roundup of the latest redistricting news. Let’s take a look at the big picture, before diving into stories out of Louisiana, Maryland, and New York.
As of April 5:
- Congressional redistricting has been completed for 365 of the 435 seats (83.9%) in the U.S. House of Representatives.
- 39 states have adopted congressional district maps
- Four states have not yet adopted congressional redistricting plans after the 2020 census
- New York’s maps were overturned by court action
- Six states were apportioned one U.S. House district, so no congressional redistricting is required
- Legislative redistricting has been completed for 1,709 of 1,972 state Senate seats (86.7%) and 4,504 of 5,411 state House seats (83.2%).
- 42 states have adopted legislative district maps for both chambers
- one state has adopted maps for one legislative chamber
- Courts in two states have overturned previously enacted maps
- the U.S. Supreme Court has blocked previously enacted maps in one state
- four states have not yet adopted legislative redistricting plans after the 2020 census.
Now, let’s look at what has happened recently in Louisiana, Maryland, and New York.
Louisiana enacted new congressional district boundaries on March 30 when the state legislature overrode Gov. John Bel Edwards’ (D) veto of legislation establishing the new districts. The state Senate voted to override 27-11 with all ‘yes’ votes from Republicans and all ‘no’ votes from Democrats. The state House of Representatives overrode Edwards’ veto 72-32 with 68 Republicans, three independents, and one Democrat voting in favor and all votes against by Democrats.
After the legislature’s override vote, House Speaker Clay Schexnayder (R) issued a statement that said, in part, “Today, the overwhelming will of the Legislature was heard. House Bill 1 fulfills our constitutionally mandated duty to redistrict Congress. It also shows true legislative independence and a clear separation of power from the executive branch.” In remarks made after the legislature overrode his veto, Gov. Edwards said, “I can’t imagine there is a more compelling case for the courts to look at and to overturn than in Louisiana. It’s not even close. I happen to believe it’s a very clear case of violating the Voting Rights Act.”
Louisiana is the fourth state this cycle—following Kansas, Kentucky, and Maryland—where the legislature overrode the governor’s veto of redistricting legislation. All four states have divided government, where one party holds the governor’s office and the other controls both chambers of the state legislature. Louisiana is one of 36 states that requires a two-thirds vote from both chambers of the legislature to override a gubernatorial veto.
Maryland adopted new congressional district boundaries on April 4 when Gov. Larry Hogan (R) signed revised redistricting legislation that the General Assembly had finalized a few days earlier. Hogan signed the new map after state Attorney General Brian Frosh dropped his appeal of Circuit Court Judge Lynne Battaglia’s ruling overturning the state’s previous congressional redistricting plan.
On March 29, the state Senate approved the revised congressional district boundaries 30-13 with all Democrats voting in favor and all Republicans voting against. The House of Delegates approved the revised map on March 30 by a vote of 94-41 with all Democrats voting in favor and 40 Republicans and one Democrat voting against.
After Gov. Hogan signed the maps, Bloomberg Government’s Greg Giroux wrote, “The new map will continue to favor Democrats in seven of eight districts while restoring a strongly Republican district for Rep. Andy Harris (R)….The new map replaces a more aggressive Democratic proposal that the legislature enacted in December over Hogan’s veto. That map created seven safe Democratic districts and converted Harris’ eastern 1st District into a swing district, raising the possibility Democrats could win all eight districts. Democrats won seven of eight districts in the past decade of House elections.”
After signing the revised map, Hogan said, “When these maps came out in December, I said they were unconstitutional and violated the law. The courts agreed, described it as extreme partisan gerrymandering, and a clear violation of the Constitution, ordered the legislature to go back and draw new maps, which they did. Now they weren’t, in my opinion, as good as the ones drawn by the citizen commission, and we shouldn’t have wasted so much time—but they are a huge improvement.” After Hogan announced he would sign the revised district boundaries, Frosh released a statement which said, in part, “We are pleased Governor Hogan has agreed to sign the proposed congressional redistricting map approved by the General Assembly. This map, like the one previously passed by the General Assembly, is constitutional and fair. Both sides have agreed to dismiss their appeals, and our state can move forward to the primary election.”
On April 4, New York Supreme Court Appellate Division Justice Stephen Lindley blocked a Steuben County Supreme Court justice’s ruling that overturned the state’s congressional and legislative district boundaries. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) had signed those maps into law on Feb. 3. Lindley’s ruling maintains New York’s maps while the case moves forward. Lindley scheduled a hearing on the state’s appeal of the lower court ruling for April 7.
The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division is the intermediate appellate court in New York. It is the appellate arm of the Supreme Court of the State of New York. In New York, there are four federal district courts, a state court of appeals, a state supreme court, and trial courts with both general and limited jurisdiction.
Steuben County Supreme Court Judge Patrick McAllister struck down New York’s enacted boundaries on March 31 and directed the legislature to draft new maps by April 11. In his ruling, McAllister said, “Part of the problem is these maps were void ab initio for failure to follow the constitutional process of having bipartisan maps presented by the [Independent Redistricting Commission]. The second problem was the Congressional that was presented was determined to be gerrymandered.”
In 2014, voters approved the New York Redistricting Commission Amendment that created a redistricting commission to draw legislative and congressional districts. The commission is required to hold 12 public hearings during the process of redistricting, and the legislature must reject two separate sets of redistricting plans before it can amend the commission’s proposals.
America’s Next Top Pet Tournament results!
Last week, we asked you to vote for your favorite presidential pet in our Next Top Pet Tournament—and vote you did. Our com-PET-ition was RUFF, and after a grrrr-ueling tournament, the winner is…
Rebecca! Calvin Coolidge’s White House raccoon (who, if you can believe it, was originally sent to the White House to become Thanksgiving dinner!) has been voted as Ballotpedia’s 2022 America’s Next Top Pet Cham-paw-ion. Congratulations to her!
The competition was close, but ultimately Rebecca clawed her way to the top, winning by just 3 votes, leaving Pauline Wayne udderly disappointed.
Thanks to everyone who voted and followed along, and you can see the results at the link below.
Rep. Upton (R-Mich.) announces retirement
On April 5, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) announced he would not seek re-election. Upton, 68, was first elected to represent Michigan’s 4th Congressional District in 1986. In 1992, he ran for and won election to Michigan’s 6th Congressional District, a seat he’s held ever since.
Upton is the 47th member of the U.S. House and the 17th Republican to announce he will not seek re-election. Thirty House Democrats have also announced they will not seek re-election. Overall, 53 members of Congress—including six U.S. Senators—have said they aren’t running for re-election this cycle. Of those, 37 members, six senators and 31 representatives have announced their retirement, while 16 U.S. House members are seeking another office.
Between January 2011 and February 2022, a total of 294 incumbents retired from the U.S. House and Senate. Out of every election cycle from 2012 to 2020, the 2018 cycle had the highest number of retirements at 55, and the 2020 cycle had the fewest with 40 announcements. From 2011 to 2021, there were an average of 26 announcements per year.