Redistricting is a never-ending story in New York state. Both sides of the political aisle are fighting over whether New York should have another go at drawing congressional district lines by the 2024 elections, a critical question considering how close the numbers are in the House of Representatives.
The latest ruling, which came down Tuesday morning from the state Court of Appeals, was an order that said the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC), which is tasked with drawing congressional lines, may start to work on new lines while litigation progresses.
At the same time, the stay on the current maps continues, which is a win for Republicans.
Jeff Wice, adjunct professor of law and senior fellow at the New York Census and Redistricting Institute at the New York Law School, called the split ruling “Solomonic."
“The court issued a stay on the commission going back to work to draw a map and vote on one and send to the Legislature. But what the court also said was that the order did not prevent the commission from doing its work,” Wice explained.
This means that some of the commissioners may move forward and work on new maps or solicit public comments.
“They just can’t send a map to the legislature,” Wice said.
According to Wice, the Republicans wanted to stop the process dead in its tracks; the Democrats wanted to proceed. The court gave the Republicans a victory in that no plan can move forward to a vote or to a “formal stage."
“On the other hand, the Democrats see a victory in that the order today says nothing stops them from moving ahead to go to work,” he said.
The clock is ticking on any new maps, so in a sense, this ruling gets the Court of Appeals off the hook by allowing work to continue.
“No one can blame them for dragging their heels and not letting the commission go back to work until they rule, which might be sometime in November or December,” Wice said.
The Court of Appeals will meet in Buffalo on Nov. 15 to hear arguments in the case.