New York’s top court clears way for new congressional map

A New York court on Tuesday agreed to allow the state to redraw its congressional map, a significant win for Democrats hoping to retake the U.S. House in 2024.  

In a 4-3 opinion issued Tuesday afternoon, the court ordered the state’s redistricting commission to draw a new map by Feb. 28, 2024. The state’s Democratic-controlled legislature will ultimately get final say over the map, however, and Republicans have warned the legislature is likely to gerrymander the map again.

“We now have to see whether the Democrats and Republicans can come together and agree on a compromise map, or whether the Democrats will be left sending a map of their own to the legislature, and whether the Republicans will continue the fight in court,” said Jeffrey Wice, a redistricting expert and professor at New York Law School.

This will be the third map for New York state this decade. The state’s Independent Redistricting Commission deadlocked last year, leaving the state’s Democratic-controlled Legislature to draw and pass their own map. That map so significantly boosted Democrats’ political prospects that state courts tossed it in favor of a court-drawn map.

Republicans flipped four seats on those maps in 2022, and a group of New York voters backed by a top Democratic election law firm sued to demand that the state’s redistricting commission be reconvened to redraw maps. Republicans opposed the measure, because the Democratic-controlled legislature can overrule the commission and draw its own maps.

New York Democrats face significant pressure to again attempt to gerrymander their state, as the U.S. House is narrowly divided.

Susan DelBene, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, called the ruling a “win for democracy.”

“We are eager for the Independent Redistricting Commission to get back to work to create a new, fair congressional map — through the process New York voters intended,” she said in a statement.

“I am confident that the independent commission can conduct a transparent process that will lead to a congressional map that more accurately reflects trends of the state’s Census data and the will of the voters,” John Bisognano, president of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, said in a statement.

Republicans criticized the court’s decision, accusing Democrats of a power grab.

“We are disappointed but not surprised by the Court’s decision to allow Democrats a second attempt at gerrymandering the maps. Instead of focusing on policies that appeal to everyday voters, Democrats are trying to cheat their way to power,” Savannah Viar, spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement. “We will continue to hold them and their terrible policies—that have led to an open border, rising crime and rampant inflation—accountable.”

Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., who represents a district President Joe Biden carried in 2020 and is a top Democratic target in 2024, attacked House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., over the ruling.

“Hakeem Jeffries is a corrupt partisan hack,” Lawler told NBC News.