A New York judge on Thursday blocked a Democratic-drawn congressional map that would have given the party a huge advantage, The New York Times reports.
New York Democrats earlier this year draw a map that would give them an advantage in 22 of the state’s 26 congressional seats.
A Republican judge last month struck down both the congressional and legislative maps, ruling that they violated a voter-approved constitutional amendment banning partisan gerrymandering.
Judge Patrick McAllister ruled that the map "was unconstitutionally drawn with political bias."
Second court rules:
A divided five-judge appeals court panel on Thursday allowed the legislative maps to remain in place but partially upheld the lower court ruling blocking the congressional map.
The court ruled that the new congressional map as drawn to “discourage competition and favor Democrats” in violation of the amendment.
“We are satisfied that petitioners established beyond a reasonable doubt that the Legislature acted with partisan intent,” the three-judge majority said as two other judges dissented.
Legislative members are expected to immediately appeal the ruling, which would send the case to the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state.
Every judge on the court was appointed by Democratic governors and could issue a final ruling as early as next week.
“Hard to defend”:
“Like other state courts around the country, New York courts aren’t finding the question of whether a map is a partisan gerrymander a particularly hard one to decide,” Michael Li, senior counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, told the Times. “It’s very hard to defend a map like New York’s, and ultimately if it quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.”
But Democrats say they’re confident the map will hold up.
“We always knew this case would end at the Court of Appeals and look forward to being heard on our appeal to uphold the congressional map as well,” said Mike Murphy, a spokesman for Senate Democrats.