ALBANY- The Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, heard oral arguments this week on whether or not the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) should be allowed to redraw congressional districts before the 2024 election. Democrats are hoping the court decides to give the IRC another shot at creating congressional districts, with Republicans fighting to have the current districts stand.
In 2022, the Court of Appeals ruled in a 4-3 decision to throw out the state senate and congressional maps approved by the state legislature. The court authorized the drawing of state senate and congressional lines by an outside expert, Dr. Jonathan Cervas. The makeup of the top court has changed substantially over the past year, and Democrats hope that with a new Chief Justice and substitute Associate Justice overhearing the case, the result will be different.
Democrats are arguing that the districts devised by the outside expert were intended to be a one-cycle remedy used only for the 2022 elections. They hold that that the redistricting responsibility, as specified by the state constitution, is that of the IRC and state legislature.
Republicans, on the other hand, argue that the state’s high court has already ruled on the matter. They believe that the court’s 2022 decision was not a stop-gap measure and that the IRC and state legislature should not get a “redo.” Republicans are concerned because Democrats, who control a super-majority in the state legislature, stand to be able to control the redistricting process if it is returned by the court.
Even though the 2022 decision applied to both state senate and congressional districts, the court is only considering the redrawing of congressional districts. Democrats did not challenge the state senate districts created by the outside expert.
The congressional districts created by Cervas proved to be some of the most competitive in the country. Three newly-crafted Hudson Valley seats, the 17th, 18th, and 19th Congressional Districts, were decided by small margins in 2022, with two Republicans and one Democrat emerging victorious. All three seats, if maintained, are expected to be competitive in the 2024 election.
The court is expected to issue a decision in the coming weeks head of the start of the 2024 election cycle.
Source: Mid-Hudson News