Congressional District Maps Favoring Democrats Upheld By Appeals Judge


A New York appeals judge has allowed new Congressional district lines in New York that generally favor Democrats to remain in force, for now, as litigation continues. That judge — state Appellate Division Justice Stephen K. Lindley — did, however, apparently allow for the appointment by a lower-level judge of independent experts to draw new Congressional maps for potential usage in the event of the eventual discarding of the redistricting plans originally enacted by state officials. Recently, New York trial Judge Patrick McAllister ruled against New York’s fresh Congressional district plans for upcoming elections, although his conclusions are on the metaphorical back burner amid the appeals process.

Lindley, meanwhile, also spoke of the possibility of state legislators preparing alternative maps. As the judge explained it, “The Legislature may begin redrawing the map right now if it chooses to do so… Or the Legislature may choose to do nothing and risk the possibility of having to live with the map drawn by Judge McAllister’s neutral experts should respondents lose before the Court of Appeals and lack sufficient time to propose a substitute map that withstands constitutional scrutiny after exhaustion of appellate remedies.” New York’s highest court, called the Court of Appeals, appears set to potentially decide the case once it finishes traversing the legal process. In the meantime, Lindley indicated “that he was chiefly concerned about the prospect of allowing New York voters to pick candidates based on unconstitutional maps,” the Associated Press summarizes — there’s been no final conclusion in this case regarding whether the maps can stand or represent an unconstitutional move. State leaders point to population decreases in Republican areas, which they say justify fewer individual Republican-leaning districts in the state.

Around the U.S., court struggles over voting rights issues are continuing. In Montana, the state Supreme Court recently temporarily stopped the enforcement of a selection of GOP-backed elections-related laws, including new restrictions on using student IDs for voting and an elimination of the option to register to vote on Election Day itself. The latter measure could particularly and pointlessly affect those who are marginalized and might have a difficult time finding the time to deal with their voter registrations before Election Day rolls around. And in Florida, a federal judge recently ruled that new elections regulations signed into law by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis were unconstitutional and blocked their enforcement. Those rules include new restrictions on when drop boxes for mail-in ballots can be available. Most states have already finalized their plans for this round of Congressional redistricting, although Florida is also among the locales where Congressional lines remain in limbo as the midterms approach.