Governor Kathy Hochul has signed the legislation creating new Congressional and Legislative districts in New York.
However, legal challenges are already being filed in court.
New York State of Politics reports the suit filed in state Supreme Court in Steuben County could provide the first test for the state constitutional amendment approved as a safeguard against partisan gerrymandering of legislative districts.
Democratic lawmakers have said they expect the maps will be upheld under a court challenge.
The new districts, part of the once-a-decade redistricting process, were submitted by Democratic lawmakers earlier this week after a bipartisan commission failed to reach an agreement on a set of maps.
Democrats have said the new districts were drawn fairly. Republicans and good-government advocates have argued the maps will help Democrats gain and retain more seats in Congress as well as in the state Legislature for the next 10 years.
Republican lawmakers during the floor debate blasted the lines, and questioned how the districts were drawn in an apparent effort to show a constitutional amendment guiding the redistricting process had been violated.
State Senator George Borrello said in a statement, “The gerrymandered maps drawn by the Democrats in the Legislature are an affront to New Yorkers who voted for an independent, public-inclusive process in 2014 and who reiterated that stance again in November 2021 by voting down another Democrat move to seize control.
The clearest sign of the hyper-partisan bias in these maps is the intense criticism coming from good government groups and editorial boards in New York and beyond, who have castigated the blatant politicization of the process.
Because these lines are so egregiously political, I believe a court challenge is wholly justified and will be successful.”
Democrats have maintained the lines are far fairer than the legislative boundaries drawn a decade ago by Republicans in the state Senate. At the same time, the legislative lines show less population deviation than in prior rounds of redistricting.
Democrats expect to be successful in any attempt by Republicans to overturn the changes — a battle that would likely play out in state court.
Democrats hold supermajorities in the state Senate and Assembly. While the party has had control of the Assembly since the Watergate scandal, the Democratic control of the Senate was only recently re-attained in 2018. Lawmakers in the chamber have long decried the Republican hand in the redistricting process.
Good-government advocates have decried the process that resulted in the new redistricted lines that have had little public debate after being introduced this week. At the same time, less competition at the state and federal level could lead to less competitive general elections and more heated party primaries — furthering a rise in polarization in the process.