Judge rips NY Democrats’ last-ditch attempt to save unconstitutional redistricting map: ‘Hail Mary pass’

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A federal judge in New York on Wednesday rejected a last-ditch attempt to use redistricting maps already ruled as unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor Democrats in the upcoming primary. 

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan refused to grant an emergency injunction Wednesday seeking to prevent the state’s highest court from enforcing last week’s ruling that new congressional and state senate districts boundaries had been unconstitutionally gerrymandered and that the Democrat-controlled legislature had not followed proper procedure in passing the maps.

“Let’s be frank. This is a Hail Mary pass, the object of which is to take a long shot to have the primary conducted on state lines that the court says is unconstitutional,” Kaplan said, according to Fox 5 NY. 

People visit a voting site at a YMCA on Election Day, Nov. 2, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. 
(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)


A 17-page complaint filed in Manhattan Monday argued that there was not enough time to redraw the maps before the June 28 primary date and the existing maps, therefore, must be reinstated to comply with a 2012 court order. A decade ago, a different federal judge ruled that New York’s then-September congressional primary date was too late to ensure ballots were received by overseas military voters before November.

A partial views of the New York state Capitol building, left, is shown next to the state Appellate court building in foreground, right, Monday, April 4, 2022, in Albany, N.Y. A panel of five mid-level New York appellate judges have ruled on Thursday, April 21, 2022 that state Democrats engaged in gerrymandering when drawing new congressional district boundaries for the next decade. 
((AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File))

Kaplan asserted Wednesday that “chaos” would ensue from forcing the primaries to go on in June using the unconstitutional district map simply in order to comply with the 2012 ruling by a different federal judge. 

New York’s congressional and state senate primary has been pushed back to Aug. 23 to allow time for an independent scholar at Carnegie Mellon University to draw replacement maps under the supervision of a state judge. 

But the state’s gubernatorial and State Assembly primary will still be held on June 28. 

Judge Patrick McAllister listens to arguments during a hearing in court, Thursday, March 31, 2022 in Bath, N.Y. 
((Vaughn Golden/WSKG via AP, Pool, File)

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who initially signed off on the now defunct maps, named U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-N.Y., as her new running mate this year after her former lieutenant governor, Brian Benjamin, was charged with federal bribery and corruption-related offenses. 

“In the 102 years since my father, then a Ukrainian refugee, came into this country, if there were two things that he drilled into my head, they were: free, open, rational elections [and] respect for the courts,” Kaplan, a Democrat, said Wednesday, according to Politico. “The relief that I’m being asked to give today impinges, to some degree, on the public perception of both. And I’m not going to do that.”


“What are candidates supposed to do? What are voters supposed to do? What are all the people concerned with elections supposed to do? I would be hard pressed to imagine a scenario that would cast into greater disrepute the rationality, the fairness, the consistency of the holding of elections in this great country, than to precipitate that,” Kaplan added, according to Fox 5. 

“It’s decidedly against the public interest,” the judge said of the request. “And I’m simply rejecting the applications.”