Jeff Wice oped:
Thursday’s spirited, nearly two-hour court hearing may lead to a very closely divided court decision. Chief Judge Rowan Wilson and Associate Justices Jenny Rivera and Shirley Troutman all dissented in last year’s ruling, and stated that redistricting is, in the end, a state legislative responsibility. Judges Wilson and Rivera appeared sympathetic to the Democratic arguments. Judges Anthony Cannataro, Michael Garcia and Madeline Singas peppered the Democratic lawyers with concerns over replacing the 2022 map as unnecessary and motivated more by process concerns over substantive issues.
After new Associate Judge Caitlin Halligan recused herself from this case, Manhattan Appellate Court Judge Dianne Renwick took her place and may end up as the swing vote. It’s important to note that Renwick was part of an appellate panel that supported having the Independent Redistricting Commission and Legislature redraw the Assembly map last year.
We’re likely to get a decision by December, leaving enough time for the Commission and Legislature to enact a new map in time for the start of the 2024 campaign in late February when petitioning gets underway for the June primary. That’s if the Court of Appeals agrees with the Democrats. Should the Republican arguments carry the day, the protracted post-2020 redistricting process should finally end and leave the court ordered 2022 map in place through the end of the decade.
But in today’s supercharged political climate, we’re left to expect the unexpected.