BUFFALO, N.Y. -- An appellate judge in Rochester will hear arguments Wednesday to decide whether or not to uphold a lower court ruling invalidating new New York state Legislature and congressional maps.
Former U.S. Rep. John Faso, an advisor to the Republican petitioners that brought the lawsuit, said he's optimistic.
"We think the very clear language in the constitution, it means what it says, and for the appellate judges to ignore that over politics, I just don't think that's where they're going. I think these judges are going to consider it fairly and certainly that's our hope," he said.
Faso said the petitioners view several recent developments as good signs. Late last week, the League of Women Voters, a non-partisan organization, filed an amicus brief with the court supporting them and the state Supreme Court ruling that the Independent Redistricting Commission violated the state constitution by failing to submit two sets of maps to the Legislature.
"If the courts agree with the League of Women Voters and the petitioners, that would mean that that special master's going to wind up drawing the lines not just for the U.S. House but for the state Senate and the state Assembly," Faso said.
The second good sign, the former congressman said, is the special master to which he referred. The appellate division allowed the state Supreme Court judge to appoint an outside expert to draw new maps should the ruling be upheld.
"I looked at his bio, his resume, and he appears to have the requisite experience and knowledge to be able to undertake this task so again, we're really encouraged by this," Faso said.
Cervas declined an interview, but according to his website, he has authored multiple papers and articles on redistricting and has helped draw new maps several times, most recently serving as a consultant last year for the Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission.
Michael Li, a redistricting expert for the nonpartisan organization Brennan Center for Justice, also believes Cervas looks like a good choice.
"He is, I think, very qualified and well-positioned to do this, assuming that he gets cooperation from the parties and he gets access to all the data and the like," Li said.
Li pointed out the uncertainty of litigation, tight time frame and the Legislature's opportunity to redraw the maps itself makes it unclear if Cervas's maps will matter for this election.
"That's a lot of stuff that has to happen before these maps get used and so it's not clear that these maps really could possibly be used for 2022 as opposed to 2024 and later," he said.
Both sides have indicated the case will likely go to the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, regardless of the appellate division decision.