On June 28, 2022, a group of New York voters filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of New York for Albany County against the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission and its members alleging violations of the New York Constitution's redistricting commission provisions. The plaintiffs' suit is in response to the proceedings in Harkenrider v. Hochul and Nichols v. Hochul where New York's state courts invalidated the New York Legislature's enacted congressional, state Senate, and state House redistricting plans for violating the New York Constitution's substantive and procedural redistricting provisions. Specifically, those decisions found the state's redistricting commission failed to submit a second set of redistricting plan proposals to the legislature after their first set was rejected, and the legislature improperly enacted plans of their own before having received the commission's constitutionally mandated second set, thereby making the enacted plans procedurally void. The trial court in Harkenrider appointed a special master and adopted remedial congressional and state Senate plans, while the trial court in Nichols remains in the process of determining the appropriate remedial process for the state Assembly plan. The plaintiffs here assert that by failing to submit a second set of redistricting plans, the redistricting commission violated their constitutional duties under article III, sections 4 and 5 of the New York Constitution and the intent of those provisions to have redistricting plans drawn by an independent commission. They are seeking a writ of mandamus requiring the commission to fulfill their constitutional duty and submit a second set of proposed congressional, state Senate, and state House redistricting plans to the state legislature for their consideration to ensure lawful plans are in place for the remainder of the decade after the 2022 elections.

On September 12, the court issued its decision dismissing the complaint after finding there was no enforceable remedy available to the petitioners under the state constitution's redistricting provisions. The petitioners appealed this decision to the supreme court's appellate division on October 17.

The Third Department of the New York Supreme Court's Appellate Division issued an opinion 3-2 in July 2023 ordering the IRC to begin work on a new congressional map. Defendants appealed the decision to the New York Court of Appeals. An automatic stay of the Third Department's order took effect upon appeal.

The New York Court of Appeals scheduled oral arguments for the appeal on November 15 in Buffalo. The Court of Appeals affirmed the Third Department's Appellate Division and ordered the IRC back to submit a second plan to the legislature by February 28, 2024.

Related Cases: Harkenrider v. Hochul; Nichols v. Hochul


Supreme Court of New York, Albany County - No. 904972-22

New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department - No. CV-22-2265

New York Court of Appeals - No. APL-2023-00121