By Michael Hill, Associated Press
A trial court ruling that declared New York’s new congressional and legislative district maps unconstitutional was temporarily stayed Monday as lawyers prepared to argue before an appeals court.
The interim order from state Appellate Division Justice Stephen K. Lindley comes four days after a lower court judge threw the state’s primary season in turmoil by ruling the state’s districts were illegally gerrymandered to benefit Democrats. The temporary stay allows the state to keep on track for June 28 primary elections.
The appeals court stay is expected to be in effect until Thursday, when oral arguments on whether to continue it are scheduled. A decision is expected later that day.
The legal challenge in New York is among a series of disputes over redistricting playing out around the country and could affect House Democrats’ efforts to maintain their majority.
The disputed New York maps would give Democrats a strong majority of registered voters in 22 of the 26 congressional districts the state will have in 2023. Republicans, who now hold eight of New York’s 27 seats in Congress, would only have an advantage in the remaining four districts.
Judge Patrick McAllister’s ruling on Thursday had given state officials until April 11 to submit new maps — even as candidates have begun running races based in the disputed boundaries. The decision, if upheld on appeal, could delay New York’s June 28 primary elections into August.
Gov. Kathy Hochul and her fellow Democrats in charge of the Legislature promptly appealed that decision.
The mid-level appeals court in Rochester was expected to handle the case quickly, with a decision possible this month.
“We just hope the court’s going to move in an expedited fashion so that we can get this thing finally determined,” said George Winner, an attorney for the plaintiffs.
New York’s primary timetable was being maintained in light of the court-ordered stay. The state Board of Elections posted on its website that petitions from candidates for Congress and the Legislature are still due this week, as scheduled.