It’s now up to NY’s top court to nix Dems’ latest bid to rig elections

July 14, 2023

New York Post

By John Faso

In their insatiable quest for more political power, Democrats are savoring Thursday’s appellate court decision ordering a do-over for congressional redistricting.

If New York’s courts are to sustain a shred of institutional dignity, that decision must be overturned in the Court of Appeals when it hears the case this fall.

Democrats claim the CoA’s ruling last year — that Democrats’ gerrymander of state congressional districts was unconstitutional — only applied to 2022.

They argue that the Independent Redistricting Commission should be ordered back to work to recraft the state’s 26 congressional districts. 

Unsurprisingly, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries pulls out the race card, contending that the districts crafted by an outside expert after the courts rejected the Legislature’s plan do not reflect “the racial, ethnic, cultural, regional and socio-economic diversity” of the state. 

The appellate court majority opinion laughably argues that returning this process to the Democratic majority in the Legislature will ensure “transparency” and more public participation.

Nonsense. Turning this process over to lawmakers creates just another chance for Democrats to win seats via backrooms in DC and Albany.

It has nothing to do with transparency or the desires of the public.

As the dissenters to Thursday’s ruling point out, the case brought by Democrats has several fatal flaws.

First, it was brought too late.

They had four months from when the commission process broke down last year to bring their case.

They missed that deadline.

Thursday’s decision held that since legislators passed a separate law giving their body discretion to pass its own redistricting plan if the commission failed to do so, this case was brought on time. 

Except for one problem: The Court of Appeals last year found that law unconstitutional since it attempted to change a constitutional provision with a mere statute.

The Court of Appeals can make short work of this case on that basis alone.

Second, the state Constitution contains explicit provisions against mid-decade redistricting, and the only remedy when the Legislature fails to act is a court-ordered plan that lasts a decade.

Democrats argued last year that if they lost, the court should send the issue back to the Legislature for repair, and that course was rejected by the court.

Court arguments are one thing. But the reality of what Democrats are attempting is something else. 

This case is a blatant power grab by state and national Democrats.

Unhappy that they were caught red-handed last year trying to rig districts in their favor, they’re now back again with phony arguments about transparency and fairness. 

In fact, the gerrymander they passed last year would have resulted in just four Republicans being elected to Congress. 

Fair districts drawn by an impartial expert resulted in 11 GOP victories.

New York has the most competitive congressional seats in the nation, and those seats remain up for grabs next year.

Redrawing districts now would create real uncertainty for candidates and mass confusion for the public.

Certainly, both parties across the nation attempt to gain political advantage in the redistricting process.

That’s why New York voters in 2014 adopted strict prohibitions against political gerrymandering and created a precise process for how district lines were to be drawn.

The 2014 amendment was a check on the unbridled power of the state Legislature to act in a partisan fashion.

This case now goes back to the Court of Appeals, which won national acclaim last year with its seminal decision upholding the state constitutional provisions against partisan gerrymandering. 

Ominously, Albany Democrats and Jeffries issue thinly veiled threats against the courts, threatening judicial independence. 

Hyper-partisan pols, such as state Sen. Mike Gianaris, even propose abolishing the merit-based nominating process for CoA judges.

The court and its new Chief Judge Rowan Wilson face a stark choice: Capitulate to the political demands of ruling Democrats or stand up for the state Constitution and the independence of the judiciary. 

We’ll soon find out which choice they make.

John J. Faso served in Congress and the state Assembly. He was a 2006 GOP candidate for governor.