Reach for the red pen: Time to redraw Assembly maps

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The case of the rotten Assembly maps is now back before the highest court in New York, the Court of Appeals. Chief Judge Janet DiFiore and her six colleagues must finish what they started and order new maps before primaries can proceed.

That the lines are unconstitutional, as the court declared in its decision at the end of April, was just reiterated by five unanimous justices of the Manhattan appellate court, the most respected mid-level bench in the country. That must be the immediate end of this map scheme drawn by Speaker Carl Heastie in cahoots with Republican Minority Leader Will Barclay. The Manhattan justices only erred in saying the state can wait until 2024 to order up new maps, for as the Court of Appeals wrote in doing that this year for congressional and Senate districts, it is unacceptable to “subject the People of this state to an election conducted pursuant to an unconstitutional reapportionment.”

The high court must now apply the same remedy for the Assembly: new maps now. There is time to get it done and remain true to the Constitution.

The private lawyer representing Heastie, Craig Bucki, did not fully explain the timeline for new maps when Justice Peter Moulton asked: “You also make the point that the special master in the Harkenrider case” — that was the initial gerrymandering challenge that nixed the other two sets of maps — “took 32 days to prepare maps. Why would that be the case here, since we’re just talking about the Assembly and presumably the computer programs that he used would be easily applied here? Why isn’t that a matter of days?”

That’s right. While it was 32 days for the congressional maps, the draft Senate maps were completed in just 18 days, while the master was working on both, and congressional maps are more complex as every district must contain the exact same population, while Senate/Assembly districts vary in size.

The Constitution, the permanent embodiment of the will of the people, must be obeyed. The invalid maps must be trashed.