In April of 2022, New York’s congressional maps favoring Democrats were tossed out. The decision to throw them out followed Republican concerns that the boundaries were “unconstitutionally gerrymandered.”
The decision cited the lack of authority of lawmakers to pass state Senate and congressional maps following a lack of consensus from an independent redistricting commission. It also noted that the map was in direct violation of a 2014 constitutional amendment created to stop gerrymandering.
Since 2014, New York has relied on an “independent commission” to draw district maps, but when the agency couldn’t agree on the new districts, Governor Kathy Hochul quickly stepped in and approved a map designed by the Democratic-controlled legislature, just in time for the 2022 midterms.
Her attempts to swing the vote failed after the new maps were challenged in court and found to be invalid. The map aimed to remove four of eight Republican seats, potentially shifting the House to a Democratic majority.
But New York Democrats once again have the chance to steal those Republican seats, thanks to a state appellate court order demanding the congressional maps be redrawn. The job will fall to the “independent commission” once more, just in time to affect the 2024 elections.
New York Republicans aren’t going to let the decision ride without an appeal, stating that the maps agreed upon in 2022 were fairly drawn. Former congressman John Faso issued a statement following the rulings, saying, “Onto the Court of Appeals.”
He went on to add, “The current districts are fair and that is why Hakeem Jeffries and Albany Democrats are seeking to change the rules of the game.”
Governor Hochul, however, has stacked the odds for a favorable outcome for New York Democrats, starting with the appointment of Rowan Wilson, a new chief judge who disagreed with the court’s ruling on the first congressional redistricting map.
Wilson is joined by Caitlin Halligan, a liberal former state solicitor general. Prior to these appointments, the court was held by Andrew Cuomo appointments, who were not seen as heavily aligned with the progressive agenda.
Democrat stronghold New York is the latest to join the list of states hoping to gerrymander districts to increase their power. Earlier in June, the SCOTUS gave Alabama Democrats a victory and a “do-over” by ruling that the state’s congressional map was an illegal “racial” gerrymander.
Wisconsin plans to sue for the right to redo maps currently favoring Republicans. That decision enables Alabama to draw a second district, heavily favoring the Democrat voting base.
Emboldened by the SCOTUS decision, Democrats are seeking similar outcomes in Georgia, Louisiana, and even Texas.
Victory will be far easier now that some states enjoy “liberal court majorities” that are more likely to favor Democrats moving forward with redistricting lawsuits, and it’s a move previously opposed by Democrats following Republican redistricting requests in North Carolina and Ohio after high courts shifted power back to conservatives in both states.
Gerrymandering is not a new concept on the political stage. The term “gerrymandering” originated in 1812 when Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry approved a redistricting plan that favored his Democratic-Republican Party.
One of the newly drawn districts was said to resemble a salamander, and a political cartoonist combined “Gerry” with “salamander” to create the term “gerrymander.”
Over the years, both major political parties have used gerrymandering to secure electoral advantages. It often involves “packing” voters from a particular party into districts to either concentrate their influence or dilute their power across multiple districts.
In the mid-20th century, the Supreme Court began weighing in on gerrymandering cases. The Court ruled that racial gerrymandering, which involved manipulating district lines based on race, was unconstitutional. This ruling is why Democrats scored a victory in Alabama.
However, SCOTUS has not established a clear standard for partisan gerrymandering, where the manipulation is based on political affiliation. In 2019, the Court ruled that partisan gerrymandering was a political issue beyond its purview, effectively leaving the matter to be addressed by the states.
And for the states, redistricting maps will naturally favor the party in power, relying on partisan court majorities to “hear” cases.
But gerrymandering is only bad if it’s done by the right. The left is eying the narrow House majority, held by only four seats, and will stop at nothing to regain control. There is an air of desperation as Democrats ramp up their efforts to redraw congressional maps to reclaim seats.
When it comes to manipulation, no one does it better than Democrats. Unfortunately for their strategy, litigation in key states may not be finished in time for the 2024 election.
If that’s the case, Democrats will need to amp up their voter fraud game even more.