WPCNR ALBANY LAW JOURNAL. By John F. Bailey. December 6, 2023:
The Appeal of the New York Supreme Court decision to accept the redrawn election districts put into effect after being created by an appointed Redistricting expert was heard in argument before the Court of Appeals in Buffalo November 15, 2023, according to the Clerk of the New York State Court of Appeals speaking to WPCNR this afternoon. The clerk told WPCNR–
“No decision has been made yet.”
The goal of the appeal is to rescind the court decision that the 2022 districts, including the 16th Congressional District, could not be redrawn by the legislature until after the 2030 census.
Should the Court of Appeals grant the appeal, this could mean a fast redrawing of districts, in time for the 2024 Democratic Primary for the 16th Congressional District now featuring a challenge of incumbut Jamaal Bowman from now Westchester County Executive George Latimer announced today in a press release.
Here is a summary from the Court of Appeals of case and the appeal:
State of New York
Court of Appeals
Summaries of cases before the Court of Appeals
To be argued Wednesday, November 15, 2023, in Buffalo
No. 90 Matter of Hoffmann v New York State Independent Redistricting Commission
The primary question in this appeal is whether the congressional district map drawn on order of this
Court in Harkenrider v Hochul (38 NY3d 494 ) is the final map that must be used until the next
redistricting cycle begins after the 2030 federal census, or if it is an interim map for use only in the 2022
elections and the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) can be compelled to submit a second set
of redistricting plans to the legislature for use in future congressional elections.
The IRC, established by a State Constitutional amendment in 2014, has ten members equally divided between the major political parties.
It deadlocked twice in 2022, first submitting two competing congressional maps to the Legislature, which rejected
them, and then failing to submit a second redistricting plan as required by the Constitution.
The Legislature then drew and adopted its own map, which was immediately challenged in Harkenrider. This Court ultimately declared the map void, finding that “the legislature and the IRC deviated from the constitutionally mandated [redistricting] procedure.”
It further ruled there was evidence to support the conclusion of the lower courts that
the congressional map was an unconstitutional gerrymander. Concluding that
“judicial oversight is required to facilitate the expeditious creation of constitutionally conforming maps for use in the 2022 election and to safeguard the constitutionally protected right of New Yorkers to a fair election,” this Court directed the trial court to adopt new district lines with the help of a neutral expert. The resulting map was used in last year’s congressional elections.
In June 2022, Anthony Hoffmann and nine other registered voters commenced this proceeding for a
writ of mandamus to compel the IRC to submit a second set of congressional redistricting plans to the
legislature to be used for the rest of this decade.
IRC Chair Ken Jenkins and two other commissioners answered in support of the petition to compel submission of a second map. The IRC remained divided, with Commissioner Ross Brady and four other members moving to dismiss the petition.
The original Harkenrider petitioners intervened and moved to dismiss the suit and retain the 2022 map. Governor Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James filed an amicus brief in support of the petition for a new map.
Supreme Court dismissed the petition, saying it was timely, but “the requested relief to restrict the 2022
maps to the 2022 election violates the constitutional mandate [in article III, § 4(e)] that an approved map be in effect until” a new map is drawn after the next census.
The Appellate Division, Third Department reversed and granted the petition in a 3-2 decision, saying
the IRC had a constitutional duty to submit a second map after its first map was rejected and Harkenrider did
not remedy that failure.
Compelling the IRC to submit a new map to the legislature “honors the constitutional
enactments as the means of providing a robust, fair and equitable procedure for the determination of voting
districts in New York…,” it said.
“[I]n granting this petition, we return the matter to its constitutional design.”
The dissenters argued the (Hochul-James) petition was untimely and, in any event, “the Constitution requires that …
court-ordered maps remain in place until after the next census.”
They said there was no statement in Harkenrider that the court-drawn map was only for use in the 2022 election, and its “judicial remedy cured the IRC’s failure to act by lawfully establishing a redistricting plan for the ordinary duration, leaving no uncured violation of law and thus foreclosing mandamus.”