New York court orders state committee to draw new congressional maps

Lynch subsequently ordered "the redistricting committee to commence its duties forthwith."

Published: July 13, 2023 3:23pm

Updated: July 13, 2023 3:46pm

A New York appeals court has sided with a Democrat-led bid to throw out the existing congressional maps and ordered the state's Independent Redistricting Committee to submit a new set of maps.

The IRC submitted a pair of maps to the state legislature in 2022, though the state rejected them and drew their own congressional districts, which a judge in turn threw out over gerrymandering concerns. Republicans ultimately gained several seats in the Empire State's congressional delegation in the 2022 midterms using court-ordered district maps. Steuben County State Supreme Court Judge Patrick McAllister determined in May 2022 that the state-created map "was unconstitutionally drawn with political bias." A special master subsequently drew new congressional lines.

New York appellate court Justice Peter Lynch determined on Thursday, however, that the state's IRC should have submitted a second proposal after the legislature rejected its initial maps, saying "[t]he IRC had an indisputable duty under the NY Constitution to submit a second set of maps upon the rejection of its first set... It is undisputed that the IRC failed to perform this duty."

Lynch subsequently ordered "the IRC to commence its duties forthwith."

Republicans currently hold a slim majority in the House of Representatives and the handful of competitive seats constitute a substantial portion of their majority. The decision drew sharp criticism from state party officials, who have indicated they will appeal the decision.

Former Rep. Joe Sempolinski, R-N.Y., the party's Steuben County chairman and Finger Lakes regional vice chair, told Just the News that "[t]his is the Democratic Party playing games with our Democracy. We have a fair map drawn by an impartial special master and this is a pretty blatant injection of partisan politics" into the process.

"I'm very disappointed in the decision today. I'm glad that it's going to be appealed," he continued. "There is clear precedent for having a special master's map hold for the entire decade. In fact, from 2012-2022, that was special master's map that held for the entire decade."

The suit began in June 2022, with a group of New York voters seeking to demand that the IRC deliver new congressional maps. Elias Law Group, which represented them, celebrated the decision, with partner Aria Branch saying the old map "disregarded and marginalized minority communities and some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens."

"We are thrilled that the Court recognized the Independent Redistricting Commission’s constitutional duty to redraw New York’s congressional map," she said, according to The Hill.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.

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