It’s official. Congressional and legislative districts both have final lines for the next 10 years despite taking two very different paths to get there.
In a decision announced Monday in the Eastern District Court of New York, a judicial panel enacted congressional lines drawn by a magistrate they had appointed to the task.
It did so reluctantly, though. The judges said repeatedly in the ruling that the state legislature shirked its responsibility and laid it on the federal government.
“In prior redistricting challenges, New York has avoided such a wholesale transfer of state legislative power to the federal courts through last-minute enactments of new redistricting plans,” the ruling reads. “In this case, however, New York has been willing to let even the last minute pass and to abdicate the whole of its redistricting power to a reluctant federal court.”
In the case of redistricting for state offices, the legislature did enact a last-minute plan.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo had threatened to veto lines critics said were gerrymandered. Instead, as part of a blockbuster legislative deal, Cuomo signed off on the lines while having the legislature pass major parts of his agenda including a statewide DNA database and pension reform.
Redistricting lines passed with few changes from previously criticized plans, but it also included a provision that a bipartisan committee would have to redraw the lines in 10 years when the process comes up again.
“This agreement will permanently reform the redistricting process in New York to once and for all end self-interested and partisan gerrymandering,” Cuomo said.
By Jeremiah Dobruck