The New York State Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, Wednesday invalidated electoral maps drawn by Democratic lawmakers. In a 32-page ruling, the court found that lawmakers had violated the state constitution and ordered new maps to be drawn.
In 2014, New York voters approved a constitutional amendment to create a non-partisan redistricting commission. However, when the commission failed to reach a consensus on new maps following the 2020 census, the Democrat-controlled legislature stepped in to draw the maps. The congressional map would have given Democrats an advantage in 22 of New York’s 26 congressional districts, compared with 19 out of 27 districts under the previous map.
A judge in a lower court had previously blocked the use of the new maps, and a divided Court of Appeals agreed Wednesday. Judge Janet DiFiore wrote for the majority:
Nearly a century and a half ago, we wrote that “[t]he Constitution is the voice of the people speaking in their sovereign capacity, and it must be heeded.” … Thirty years later, we relied on that fundamental principle to conclude that “[a] legislative apportionment act cannot stand as a valid exercise of discretionary power by the legislature when it is manifest that the constitutional provisions have been disregarded … [because] [a]ny other determination by the courts might result in the constitutional standards being broken down and wholly disregarded.” … Today, we again uphold those constitutional standards by adhering to the will of the People of this State and giving meaningful effect to the 2014 constitutional amendments.
Three judges dissented. The court ordered a court-appointed special master to redraw the maps and indicated that the congressional and state senate primary elections would likely have to be postponed from June until August.