“G.O.P. Lawsuit Casts N.Y. Congressional Maps as Brazen Gerrymandering”


A Republican-led group of voters filed a lawsuit late Thursday challenging New York’s freshly drawn congressional maps as unconstitutional, a day after Democratic lawmakers in Albany approved district lines that would heavily favor their party in its battle to retain control of the House.

The 67-page suit argued that the new district lines violated a 2014 state constitutional amendment meant to protect against partisan district drawing, saying that Democrats had “brazenly enacted a congressional map that is undeniably politically gerrymandered in their party’s favor.”

“This court should reject it as a matter of substance, as the map is an obviously unconstitutional partisan and incumbent-protection gerrymander,” said the lawsuit, which was brought by a group of 14 voters.

The lawsuit, which was widely expected, is likely to face an uphill battle: State courts have traditionally been reluctant to reject maps drawn by lawmakers, and it can be difficult to prove that maps that favor one political party were drawn illegally.

But the lawsuit was filed in State Supreme Court in Steuben County, a Republican stronghold in the state’s Southern Tier where judges may be more sympathetic to claims of Democratic political gerrymandering.

The outcome of the challenge could hinge on how a state judge interprets an anti-gerrymandering provision in the 2014 amendment that has not been tested in court before, as well as the process lawmakers followed to draw the lines.

“The question is whether the court will revert 50 years of precedent and reject the plan,” said Jeffrey Wice, a senior fellow at New York Law School’s Census and Redistricting Institute.

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