New York judge dismisses petition to compel the state’s redistricting commission to submit new congressional, legislative maps for use in 2024

Albany County Supreme Court justice Peter Lynch dismissed on Sept. 12 a petition seeking to compel the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) to submit a second set of redistricting plans for the legislature to consider as part of redistricting after the 2020 census. Several New York state residents filed the petition.

The plaintiffs argued that “the IRC did not complete its constitutionally required redistricting duties because it failed to submit a second set of plans” and “the Court of Appeals also made clear that the Legislature was powerless to enact a new redistricting plan once the IRC refused to submit a second set of plans.” The petition sought to have the IRC meet and submit new map proposals that would be used for the 2024 elections and beyond.

Justice Lynch wrote in his order that “In this Court’s view, the Congressional maps approved by the Court on May 20, 2022, corrected by Decision and Order dated June 2, 2022, are in full force and effect, until redistricting takes place again following the 2030 federal census…In turn, there is no authority for the IRC to issue a second redistricting plan after February 28, 2022, in advance of the federal census in 2030, in the first instance, let alone to mandate such plan be prepared.”

Here is a summary of the timeline of New York’s redistricting after the 2020 census:

  • Jan. 3, 2022 – The IRC deadlocked 5-5 on two different proposed redistricting maps and submitted both proposals to the legislature.
  • Jan. 10 – The New York legislature rejected both proposals, and under the provisions of the state’s 2014 constitutional amendment adopting new redistricting procedures, the IRC had until Jan. 25 to submit a second proposal.
  • Jan. 24 – The IRC announced that it would not submit a new set of proposed maps by the deadlines.
  • Feb. 3 – The state legislature enacted its own congressional and legislative district boundaries.
  • March 31 – In response to a lawsuit, Steuben County Surrogate Court justice Patrick McAllister struck down the enacted congressional and legislative maps and ordered the state legislature to draw new maps.
  • April 27 – The New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, upheld McAllister’s ruling overturning the congressional and state Senate maps.
  • May 20 – Justice McAllister ordered the adoption of a new congressional map drawn by a court-appointed special master.

Justice McAllister’s March 31 order 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.” McAllister ordered the legislature to pass new maps that “receive bipartisan support among both Democrats and Republicans in both the senate and assembly.” The New York Court of Appeals’ April 27 ruling stated that the maps were enacted in violation of the state’s constitutional redistricting process and found that the congressional plan was drawn with unconstitutional partisan intent.

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