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New York State Court of Appeals hears oral arguments on redistricting case

Ava Pukatch

The New York State Court of Appeals heard arguments Wednesday in the state's redistricting case which would determine whether Congressional maps need to be redrawn before the 2024 election.

Misha Tseytlin is a lawyer working for the Republicans, who are opposed to changing the maps again. Tseytlin said if the petitioners prevail, a "inevitable gerrymander" will be challenged in court again.

"What the people did in adopting the anti-gerrymandering amendments, not only did they set up an exclusive process and a prohibition against partisan gerrymandering, they also included in the second sentence of 4E that mid-decade redistricting is particularly dangerous," Tseytlin said.

Judge Jenny Rivera asked if what the court did was correcting the violation of the legislature meaning the remedy was temporary saying the court was focused on the timing of the next election.

"If we disagree with you on the violation, that's that's being cured in Harkenrider and that plan exists for a temporary period of time, isn't the plan that's in place then the prior plan, which is not in accord with the Constitution?" Rivera said.

Aria Branch, a lawyer working for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said the promise of the redistricting amendments has been deferred, but it need not be denied. Branch they're seeking the completion of the Independent Redistricting Commission or IRC process.

"We are not challenging the maps, but the remedy that was ordered in Harkenrider did not cure the procedural violation at issue in this case, which was the failure of the IRC to send a second map to the leg," Branch.

Judge Michael Garcia expressed skepticism.

"The promulgation of the maps on February 3 completely took the IRC out of the picture," Garcia said. "So it seems as if you want to have it both ways. You want the IRC process or do you just want a set of maps that complies or conforms to what you think the maps should be."

It's not clear when the court will make a decision.

Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.