NY Appellate Court deems Assembly districts invalid but no change to June primary; new maps planned for 2024

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ALBANY, N.Y. — A Manhattan appellate court ruled Friday that Democrat-drawn state Assembly maps are unconstitutional and should be redrawn — just not this year.

While the five-judge panel unanimously found that the Assembly boundaries are unconstitutional and must be replaced, they determined it’s too late to push back the June 28 primary.

“The request for a delay of the 2022 assembly primary elections is denied in any event, because the redrawing and implementing of a new assembly map before a 2022 primary election delayed even until September is, at this late date, no longer feasible,” the ruling reads.

The decision comes weeks after the Court of Appeals similarly invalidated New York’s congressional and State Senate maps, determining that the Democrat-led Legislature disregarded the redistricting process laid out in the state constitution.

That led to congressional and State Senate primaries being pushed back to August and a special master drawing new, nonpartisan districts.

Critics have fought for the Assembly lines to be scrapped this year as well, and the lawsuit leading to Friday’s ruling was filed by a bipartisan group including the leader of the New York Young Republicans and an upstate Democratic businessman.

Aaron Foldenauer, one of the attorneys who brought the suit, called the decision “a major win.”

“The Courts have again ruled in favor of the people, and against the establishment politicians who tried to make a mockery of our State Constitution to preserve their longevity in office,” Foldenauer said. “The people of New York voted to have nonpartisan lines drawn so that politicians could not gerrymander their districts to maintain their own power.”

The appellate panel kicked the case back down to Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Laurence Love to determine how new Assembly maps will be drawn up before the 2024 elections.

Attorney Jim Walden called the decision a “win for all New Yorkers.”

“Today’s victory for the people of New York ensures that their votes won’t be subject to unconstitutional assembly lines for the next 10 years,” he said.

Plaintiff Gary Greenberg, a part-owner in the Vernon Downs Casino and longtime advocate for laws supporting survivors of child sex abuse, said he fully intends to appeal in order to stop the June 28 primary.

Foldenauer said initial paperwork was filed Friday calling on the Court of Appeals to consider redrawing the lines for this year’s elections.

If not, the petitioners will argue for special elections next year using redrawn maps.

Courts at all levels have come to the conclusion that Democrats gerrymandered congressional maps to favor themselves and violated a 2014 constitutional provision creating an independent commission meant to take politics out of the redistricting process.

That 10-member bipartisan panel wound up deadlocked earlier this year and voted to send a pair of competing maps, one drawn up by Republicans and one by Democrats, to lawmakers.

The Legislature, in which Democrats have a supermajority, then decided to draw their own maps, prompting the legal actions that led to the maps being invalidated.

While the congressional and State Senate primaries were postponed until Aug. 23, primaries for governor and other statewide offices, Assembly seats, and other local offices are still scheduled for June 28.