2022 Redistricting (part 2) by Tom Reynolds
On Monday, SCOPE wrote about the 2022 redistricting. We detailed the process of redistricting and the role of an independent commission that will draw up the redistricting plan. One paragraph in that e mail is especially important and needs further attention. It said:
“If the Legislature fails to approve the plan, or the Governor vetoes the plan and an override by the Legislature fails, the Commission shall be notified and within 15 days of the notification (but no later than February 28, 2022), a second plan shall be submitted to the Legislature for approval. Should the Legislature fail to approve a redistricting plan as submitted by the Commission, the Legislature shall provide amendments deemed necessary and, if approved, submit such legislation to the Governor for action on the measure.”
What this means is that the legislature gets to approve the independent commission’s plan and if the legislature twice rejects the plan, the legislature gets to draw the plan up, themselves.
Since the Democrats overwhelmingly control both houses of the legislature, they have the ability to reject the commission’s plans but are they willing to do it twice. This kind of display of raw partisan political power would have, in the past, subjected them to serious consequences. But today, when the media is firmly in the Democrats’ hands (or the Democrats are firmly in the media’s hands) we would not see condemning editorials and coverage will be slight and non-condemning. It will certainly be tempting for the Democrats to reject the plans if the commission’s plans are not partisan enough for them.
The unknown factor is the courts. As SCOPE wrote in an earlier e mail about “One Man One Vote”, that prior to the 1960s, court challenges to redistricting plans were considered political questions that were most appropriately addressed by the political branches of government, not the judiciary. In 1962, in the landmark ruling of Baker v. Carr, the Supreme Court (under the far-left Earl Warren) pivoted and held that a constitutional challenge to a redistricting plan was not a political question and was justiciable. Add to that, in New York State, that the courts are populated by Democrat appointees who may put party above the law. However, the federal court system is more balanced.
Courts have held that independent redistricting commissions were legal but would two rejections of the commission’s plans cause the courts to view the legislature’s plans as illegitimate, from the start? It should certainly give them pause.
Congressional districts are also required to comply with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), prohibiting any voting qualification or practice that results in the denial or abridgement of the right to vote based on race, color, or membership in a language minority.
What about discrimination based on political parties?
In Cox v. Larios, a district court decision struck down a state legislative redistricting plan on the basis that the plan was intentionally designed for partisan purposes. The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) summarily affirmed that decision. The district court held that, amongst other things, the plan deliberately paired numerous Republican incumbents to run against one another. (This would seem to say that there is a “red line” that cannot be crossed. But where that red-line is will be the question.)
It’s likely that most New Yorkers are not paying attention to redistricting. And if the left-wing media fails to publicize it, the system will be open to all sorts of political gamesmanship aimed at minimizing your influence and maximizing the politicians’ power and job security. Don’t hesitate to let your state representatives know that you are watching.