A state judge on Thursday rejected the maps drawn by the Democratic-led state Legislature in New York for the state's U.S. House of Representatives districts as well as those in the state Senate and Assembly.
The 18-page ruling ordered lawmakers to draw maps with "sufficient bipartisan support" by April 11 or have a neutral party draw the lines. The ruling is expected to be appealed.
The development is a victory for Republicans, albeit likely a temporary one, as the redistricting process is being challenged in court that could have major implications for control of the House of Representatives on the national level. New York lost a congressional district due to its population not growing as fast as the rest of the country.
“The decision rendered today by Justice Patrick McAllister is a complete victory for petitioners; more importantly, it is a victory for the People of the State of New York," said Republican former Rep. John Faso.
A Republican-backed lawsuit on behalf of voters in the state has challenged the legislative-drawn lines under a constitutional amendment that is meant to bar partisan gerrymandering.
On Thursday night, New York Attorney General Letitia James and Gov. Kathy Hochul issued a one-sentence statement in response to the ruling, stating, “We intend to appeal this decision.”
The state's top court, the Court of Appeals, has been appointed entirely by Democratic governors.
Democrats who controlled the process this year after rejecting the lines drawn by a commission have argued the districts are fairly drawn and reflect the Democratic domination of the state's electorate. Democrats hold supermajorities in both chambers of the state Legislature, enabling them to control the process after rejecting the commission-drawn maps.
But critics of the Democratic-drawn districts have called the maps "a master class in gerrymandering" for New York.
"This is one step in the process. We always knew this case would be decided by the appellate courts," Mike Murphy, communications director for the New York Senate Democratic majority, wrote on Twitter. "We are appealing this decision and expect this decision will be stayed as the appeal process proceeds."