ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)– In New York’s highest court, a legal battle could determine the state’s congressional representation yet again. Last year, the court ruled that Democrats didn’t follow the proper process in drawing districts. Ultimately court drawn maps led to Republicans gaining seats in the House of Representatives. Now, Democrats are trying to undo that, calling for a new set of lines to be drawn.
Caitlin Halligan, the newest judge on that court, has recused herself from the case.
“She’s now been replaced by a judge from the appellate division in New York City, Judge Diane Renwick, for the purposes of this case,” said Jeffrey Wice, an adjunct professor at New York Law School.
He said this could have a significant impact.
“Not only do we have Judge Wilson, as Chief Judge of the court, but we also have another judge whose track record is that she’s been somewhat favorable to the role of the legislature. Now each case is different and she is impartial. She’s not going to pre-judge this, but if you’re going to read tea leaves, there’s a better chance maybe that she has an open mind to this than not, but it’s hard to tell,” explained Wice.
The case will be heard in Buffalo next month.
Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause New York, said her organization gave New York a “D” grade on redistricting. While communities were able to provide feedback on redistricting previously, Lerner said it’s not clear that it had much of an impact.
“Community-based organizations across the state are starting to talk about what we need to have,” said Lerner. “We need a really independent commission, not one that’s appointed by an answerable to the legislature. The public wants maps that are drawn on a fair basis that allows every voter to have an equal voice, and not to have legislators picking their voters, but rather voters picking their representatives.”
Lerner believes the process needs to be revised. The New York Independent Redistricting Commission is now calling on the public to give input on where they think the lines should be drawn.