New York’s highest court ruled on Wednesday that Democratic leaders had violated the State Constitution when drawing new congressional and State Senate districts, ordering a court-appointed special master to draw replacement lines for this year’s critical midterm elections instead. — “The New York Times”
There is no certain method for drawing fair districts. I suspect no one knows what the special master will do. In the past, districts were considered fair if they were reasonably compact. The Appeals Court now has added a new requirement–that they not be politically biased.
How new districts might be drawn is unclear.
- Republican or Democratic proposals of the bipartisan redistricting commission might be used as a start.
- Present 2010 districts might be tweaked, eliminating a district upstate or downstate.
- Overturned 2020 districts might be tweaked, adding Republican voters to Democratic leaning districts and Democratic voters to Republican leaning districts.
- New districts might be drawn dividing the state according to some geographical criteria.
- New districts might be drawn according to some political criteria, with a number of Republican leaning districts in proportion to the number of registered Republicans.
Whatever is decided is sure to be arbitrary.
- The first suggestion would politically biased, the very problem the court seeks to fix.
- The second would be blatantly political
- The third wouldn’t change much, possibly making some contests closer.
- The fourth might create radically new political alignments, to the advantage of one party or another and to the disadvantage of some incumbents.
- The fifth seems unfair — courts shouldn’t decide how many Republicans NYS sends to Congress; independents and members of minor parties shouldn’t be excluded from a role.
The New York Times says the decision can’t be challenged, but I think a challenge in the Supreme Court on Constitutional grounds might be possible:
Times, Places, and Manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; —.
Whatever happens, new districts are sure to be controversial and disruptive. It will be interesting to see the results.