CASE SUMMARY

On May 15, 2022, a group of New York voters filed a state lawsuit challenging the state's enacted state Assembly redistricting plan as unconstitutional. The plaintiffs assert the New York Legislature failed to follow the New York Constitution's redistricting procedures when it enacted its congressional and legislative redistricting plans and they cite the New York Court of Appeals' ruling in Harkenrider v. Hochul striking down the congressional and state Senate plans as procedurally invalid in support of their claims against the enacted state Assembly map. They are seeking a judicial declaration that the Assembly map is unconstitutional and void, a court order appointing a special master to adopt a legally compliant state Assembly map, and for the court to make adjustments to the 2022 primary election schedule and candidate filing deadlines to accomodate the court's remedial Assembly redistricting process.

On May 25, the Supreme Court issued its decision denying the petition on the grounds the petitioners' claims were barred by laches as they waited too long to bring their action and the 2022 election processes were too far along to be disrupted by judicial intervention. The plaintiffs appealed this ruling to the New York Court of Appeals the same day, but on May 27, the Court of Appeals transferred the case back to the Supreme Court's Appellate Division as the correct venue for the appeal. On June 10, the Appellate Division issued its ruling declaring the Assembly map unconstitutional as procedurally invalid but ordering it nevertheless be used for the 2022 elections on the grounds the plaintiffs waited too long to bring their action and obtain their requested relief for the upcoming elections. The court remanded the case back to the Supreme Court for consideration of the proper means for redrawing the Assembly map for future elections in accordance with the New York Constitution.

On September 29, the Supreme Court issued its decision and ordered New York's redistricting commission to reconvene and draft a state Assembly plan in a process largely resembling the constitutional amendment's procedures but modified by the court. No later than December 2, 2022, the commission must release proposed Assembly plans to the public and then hold public hearings in various specified locations across the state thereon. By April 28, 2023, the commission must submit the plan which garnered the most votes for approval to the state legislature which must approve or reject the plan without amendment. If the plan is rejected or vetoed by the governor, the commission must prepare and submit a second plan to the legislature within 15 days of the notification of the rejection/veto and in no case later than June 16, 2023, which must be voted on without amendment. If rejected or vetoed, the legislature can then introduce and adopt amendments to the plan as they please.

Related Case: Harkenrider v. Hochul

CASE LIBRARY

Supreme Court of New York, New York County - No. 154213/2022

New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department - No. 2022-02301

New York Supreme Court, New York County - No. 154213/2022 [On remand]