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New York’s Highest Court Orders Congressional Districts to be Redrawn

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New York’s highest court on Tuesday ordered the state to redraw its congressional map, handing Democrats a major win in the fight for control of the US House of Representatives in the upcoming 2024 election.

By a 4-3 vote, the New York State Court of Appeals ordered the state to restart the mapmaking process. New York’s bipartisan Independent Redistricting Commission will be tasked with creating a new map. The Democratic-controlled state legislature would have ultimate say over the new lines for New York’s 26 congressional districts.

The long-awaited decision could help Democrats in their quest to flip a key number of Republican-held House seats next year. The GOP currently holds an extremely thin majority in the chamber – one that grew even smaller with the recent expulsion of New York Republican George Santos.

Tuesday’s decision upends last year’s court-drawn map, which led to New York Republicans flipping four seats, victories that helped their party win a majority in the House in 2022.

New York Republicans, who immediately denounced the ruling, are likely to challenge any new map they see as gerrymandered by state Democrats.

“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,” New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the chair of the House GOP Conference, and Ed Cox, the chairman of the New York GOP, said in a joint statement.

Empire State Democrats welcomed the ruling.

“Today’s redistricting decision will ensure all New Yorkers are fairly and equitably represented by elected officials,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and state Attorney General Letitia James said in a joint statement.

The fight over New York’s congressional map stretches back to a constitutional amendment approved by voters that established the Independent Redistricting Commission to curb partisan gerrymandering.

But the bipartisan commission could not reach agreement on a map for use in the 2022 election following the 2020 census. The state legislature then intervened and drew its own map that heavily favored Democrats – but this map was later blocked by the Court of Appeals. A court-appointed special master then drew the map used during the 2022 election.

Democrats, arguing that the court-drawn map should not be used for more than one election, went to court again asking for the Independent Redistricting Commission to try again.

The Court of Appeals, now under more liberal control, agreed.

“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 for the majority. “The Constitution demands that process, not districts drawn by courts.”

The court ordered the commission to create a map by February 28. Under state law, the legislature has the power to weigh in on the commission’s map.

Both political parties have waged intense fights over redistricting this year, often over one or two seats. Republicans scored a big win earlier this year when the GOP-controlled legislature in North Carolina drew new lines that could help the party pick up at least three seats now held by Democrats. The Tar Heel state gains, if they withstand a court challenge, could counter any Democratic pickups that may emerge in New York.

Source : CNN

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