Who Will NY’s Highest Court Listen to? District Leaders or the State’ Constitution, We Will Know This Week
By Gary Tilzer
The highest court in New York, the Court of Appeals, on Tuesday morning will hear oral arguments on whether or not to strike down the obviously gerrymandered districts drawn by the Democrats in the Legislature. Two lower courts have already found they violate the state Constitution. In 2014. 1,705,903 New Yorkers voted to change the State’s Constitution, “to require redistricting map makers to preserve communities of interest and political districts shall not be drawn to discourage competition” or boost one-party or incumbent candidate over another.” State Supreme Court Justice Patrick McAllister rightly rooted his ruling in the plain language of the State Constitution while he threw out the lines as unconstitutional. The state Appellate Division just got it half-right on the Legislature’s gerrymander, correctly blasting the US House-seat maps as drawn expressly “to discourage competition and favor Democrats” and thus violating New York’s Constitution. But the Court of Appeals left the State Senate and Assembly maps intact. Most New Yorkers would be shocked how much politics go into some redistricting court decisions, but not the editorial board of the NY Post and Daily News:
NY Post Editorial Asks the NY Court of Appeals: District Leader Politics or Constitutional Law?
It’s hard to understand how the Court of Appeals found the House maps violate the Constitution, but not the State Senate and Assembly maps. A NY Post Editorial implies that the State Courts could be political, endangering Democracy and our City:
NY Post Andrew Cuomo-appointed Dems utterly dominate the Court of Appeals, so cross your fingers that its members decide as judges, not as politicians. The ruling on the Senate maps is crucial to New York’s future: If that gerrymander lives, it would all but ensure near-permanent Democratic control in Albany, leaving the state forever held hostage to the high-taxing, free-spending, crime-loving policies now driving people elsewhere in droves.”
New Yorkers are Clueless How Much the Redistricting Court Battle Effects Them, NY’s Politics and Everyone’s Quality of Life
NY1 Political reporter Nick Reisman framed redistricting as a fight between Democrats and Republicans. The reporter enhanced his limiting political narrative that four less Republican Congressional seats in NY would play a significant role in determining the balance of power in Washington next year. What Reisman did not report on was how the partisan redistricting disenfranchised New York voters who voted for a State Constitution Amendment that required independent redistricting. It is not only NY1 that spined the redistricting story to a partisan battle, most of the media limited discussion to the point that most New Yorkers have no idea of the real stakes and consequences of the court battle.
Redistricting is not about giving the Republican Party that does not exist in most of the city power, it is about taking power away from voters, even in Democratic Districts to help incumbents. The goal of redistricting, especially in one-party NY, should be to give the voters of every district influence on their elected officials. The goal of redistricting is to have the representative serve the particular needs of his or her community, which is impossible if the elected officials district cuts through several neighborhoods with unique needs. The high reelection rates caused by the gerrymandering of districts done by partisan and incumbent protection map makers, allow elected officials to avoid problems like affordable housing, homelessness, and bad schools. It would teach Albany a lesson and go a long way to fixing the city by holding elected officials responsible if the judges appoint a special master to redraw the districts to keep neighborhoods together and ignore the current incumbent protection lines.
The Daily News Sent A Message to the State’s Chief Judge to “Do the Right Thing” Rule on the State Constitution
NY Daily News “Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, who was elected a county court judge and then Westchester district attorney as a Republican and then switched parties to be a Democrat before being elevated to the Court of Appeals, knows politics well. But in this case, there can be no loyalty to the party, for finding in favor of the Democrats would fly in the face of the very Constitution DiFiore and her six colleagues are sworn to uphold and protect. But the only way that DiFiore can uphold her honor and her oath is to compare the unambiguous language of the Constitution, as ratified by millions of New Yorkers, with the dreck that the Democratic supermajority produced. Tossing these lines and ordering new ones from a special master and pushing back the primary from June to August is the one true, fair, and just outcome. And since the state Independent Redistricting Commission also failed to follow the Constitution, the maps for the state Senate and Assembly must also be redone. Next year, the judiciary is up for a raise; DiFiore doesn’t want to fight with the Legislature, which can block that raise. That can’t factor into her decision, nor can any other consideration. This is about the Constitution and the lines, and it’s clear as day.”
The NY Times Published in an Editorial in 2014 that the Independent Redistricting Commission Was Not Independent. . . Today Silent No Editorial
It is clear to even casual observers that the NY Times news coverage has since Trump was elected become more political partisan and narrative driven. The Times is obsessed with writing editorials about Texas redistricting, but nothing about NY. The newspaper of record and the party that loves to mouth pieties about defending democracy has been dealt a stinging judicial slap over its blatant bid to disenfranchise New York voters and end-run the state Constitution.
The NY Times wrote in an editorial on 10/28/14 that voters should defeat the Independent Redistricting Commission Amendment but has not written any editorial opinion on Judge McAllister and Court of Appeals rulings that the 2022 Congressional district maps were unconstitutional. NY Times 2014 “Proposal One is a constitutional amendment to revise the state’s redistricting procedure. This is a phony reform that purports to establish a new system of drawing legislative districts. Legislative leaders would appoint a committee charged with drawing new districts. If the legislators do not like the first two tries, they can draw the districts themselves. The net result would be to reinforce, not reform, a system that virtually guarantees job security for incumbents and discourages competition. Vote no on Proposal One.”
Even Good Government Groups Who for Decades Opposed District Lines Being Drawn by Lawmaker are Silent On Unconstitutional Court Rulings
For decades, the NY Times and Good Govt Groups have been organizing and writing against incumbent protection and partisan redistricting. Yet at this critical moment when a state judge has already ruled the state’s redistricting as unconstitutional, all the traditional groups who have been fighting for independent redistricting have been silent. How can Common Cause NY or the Citizen Union not be organizing against the 2022 redistricting that can only make NY’s government more disconnected from the public who already want to move out of the city because of its failed government? How can the NY Times, which has already shown how NYC’s dysfunctional government failed to audit the corruption of the homeless nonprofits, not warn its readers that partisan incumbent protection redistricting will only make NY’s government more dysfunctional? Does the Times think the new state 220-billion-dollar budget is not filled with pots of hidden member items slush funds that will go to politically connected nonprofits, whose board members donate to those same elected officials?
The Jewish Voice Has Warned for Months About the Probability of Partisan Redistricting in One-Party NY
The Jewish Voice wrote months ago that Albany’s supermajority Democrats would do an end-run around a bipartisan commission empowered by the voters in 2014. On January 10, 2022, the Jewish Voice warned that the so-called Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) would not reach an agreement on new state and federal redistricting lines. The JV article, “The Kabuki Dance Redistricting Incumbent Protection One-Party NY Fix is In, predicted that the IRC would not agree on new district maps. The JV reported that new Congressional, Assembly and State Senate maps would be partisan gerrymandered, to limit the number of seats a Republican can win in the state. More importantly, we warned that the level of competency of NY’s government would decrease and the level of corruption with one party drawn districts would increase. The Founding Fathers set up a system of divided government to protect us from our own government. One-party control hurts which works against the founder’s governing principle, hurting our democracy and the ability to meet the people’s needs. In one-party state elected officials gain Orwellian type power of the voters, drawing partisan redistricting maps is just one example. With the breakdown of NYC local media in the last 20-years one-party power has increased to dangerous levels.”
The Jewish Voice Predicted: Malliotakis New Lines Would Favor Rose Before Her District Was Attached to Park Slope
Jewish Voice January 2022: In 2020, incumbent Democratic Max Rose lost to Republican Nicole Malliotakis 137,198 46.8% to 155,608 53.1% in the Staten Island/Brooklyn congressional district, which could still be the 11th district depending on redistricting. Rose recently Tweeted: “I’m running for Congress in #NY11 because I can’t sit by while Republicans tear us apart just to hold onto power. The America we believe in is possible – one that is safe, affordable, and fair. All we need are leaders willing to risk it all to fight for it.” The buzz among the insiders who belong to NYC’s political class is that Rose will receive after redistricting a more Democratic leaning district. Looking at the demographics and voting patterns in Southern Brooklyn that just elected the first Republican Assemblywoman, Inna Vernikov, the Albany map makers have their work cut out.
The Press Allows State Senator Gianaris and Other Leaders of the Partisan Redistricting To Hide Behind Their Spokesman
“This is one step in the process,” said Michael Murphy, a spokesman for the State Senate Democrats. “We always knew this case would be decided by the appellate courts and Court of Appeals.” Albany Democrats ignored the will of New Yorkers who demanded fair, independent redistricting. Instead, they adopted partisan maps to protect themselves,” Even Gianaris supporters in his Greek taverns and diners of Astoria senate district snicker when their senator states redistricting connected communities of interest. They understand that by dividing communities’ politicians gain to easily be reelected. Their Congressional districts have always been known as a joke to the locals. Astoria congressional districts have always been divided, with half of Manhattan and half of the Bronx.
Will the NY Court of Appeals Order the Nadler District Which Includes Boro Park to be Redrawn?
The new Congressional District of 74-year-old Nadler is still mostly located on the very liberal Westside of Manhattan, from 122nd Street in Morningside Heights to the Financial District. It is expected by political insiders that during the next ten years, before the next redistricting, a very liberal candidate to the left of Nadler will replace him. Nadler’s district enters Brooklyn through the piers of Red Hook but does not contain any voters there. It then starts its Robert Moses inspired neighborhoods cutting Odyssey with a 75 one-block wide arch, following court street and zigzags near Livingston St, then Atlantic Avenue to very left-leaning Prospect Heights. Nadler’s district then goes through Prospect Park to liberal Windsor Terrace, then to Boro Park and finally to the shoreline of Bath Beach.
Wokeness and Politics Destroyed Institutions That in the Past Protected the Common New Yorker
It looks like the Good Government groups and The NY Times do not want to anger the Democratic Party in control of NY or they are so caught up in the narrative of the woke culture that they do not want to give any power to Republicans. Now it is up to the state’s highest court to preserve NY’s Democracy and the power of New Yorkers to choose their elected officials and require them to run their government competently, fairly and with their voice being heard.