New lines for the state Assembly will remain in place for this year’s election, but a state appeals division judge in Manhattan ruled on Friday that they must be changed by 2024 at the later.
“We weren’t expecting a win in the Appeal Division and we’re thrilled … We faced the machine in Albany from both sides,” New York State Young Republican Club president Gavin Wax said Wednesday.
Wax, Democratic activist Gary Greenberg and former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Nichols filed suit after the Court of Appeals – New York’s highest court – threw out cards weeks ago for Congress and the State Senate, saying they were unconstitutional.
Spokespersons for Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state Board of Elections, who are among the defendants in the case, said separately Friday that they are reviewing the decision.
The ruling means a lower court now has ample leeway to redraw the map of the Assembly.
Possible outcomes include approval of lines that more or less resemble those approved along bipartisan lines by the Assembly in early April, according to Jeff Wice, a redistricting expert and professor at New York School of Law.
Or, he added, the lower court could create a radically different map or even order that Assembly candidates elected this year only serve one year before running for re-election in redrawn constituencies in 2023. .
“The plan was rejected for purely technical reasons which the legislature does not have the power to redraw after the Independent Redistricting Commission failed to do its job,” Wice added, referring to a panel instructed by the State Constitution to oversee the process.
Albany Democrats have endorsed a so-called “Hochulmander” of the Congressional map that could have helped them flip several GOP-held seats as Democrats defend their House majority this year.
The state Senate map was invalidated on technical grounds because courts ruled the Constitution did not explicitly give lawmakers the power to oversee redistricting after Democratic and GOP commissioners failed to reach to a consensus.
The court had added in its decision that it would also have invalidated the Assembly’s card for procedural reasons if it had been specifically targeted by the litigation before the court.
This created an opening for Gavin, Nichols and Greenberg to issue a new challenge to the approved lines.
“It’s not a victory for us, it’s a victory for all New Yorkers because this card was designed to protect cardholders,” Jim Walden, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, told The Post on Friday. .
Efforts are already underway to appeal Friday’s decision to the Court of Appeal in hopes of securing a new card in time for a September primary this year, according to Walden.
“The fight is not over yet,” he said.
The courts have already rejected efforts to combine the June 28 primary for the Assembly and the August 23 primary for the state Senate and Congress into a single election date.
Whatever happens with this call, the twists and turns of the 10-year redistricting process will continue for some time given the uncertainty over how a lower court might approach the creation of new Assembly districts.
“It could go on for several more months,” Wice said.