New York's primary elections will proceed as scheduled and maps dictating new congressional, Senate and Assembly district lines for the next decade will remain in place for the next several weeks until the next phase of the legal challenge to the state's redistricting process, an appellate judge ruled Friday.
State Supreme Court Appellate Division Justice Stephen Lindley issued a stay Friday to allow New York congressional, Senate and Assembly candidates to continue to canvas and gather signatures — keeping the current general primary election scheduled for June 28.
The state Board of Elections' deadline for filing petitions is Monday.
"...respondents correctly point out that petitioners never contended that the Assembly districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered, and the court made no such finding," Lindley, appointed by former Gov. David Paterson in 2010, wrote in his decision.
A judge with the Fourth Department of the state's Appellate Division is expected to issue a decision on the appeal on April 20.
Steuben County Supreme Court Justice Patrick McAllister struck down the new maps drawn by the Legislature on March 31 because he said the Legislature failed to comply with the state Constitution and amendments that established the Independent Redistricting Commission in 2014.
The Legislature and state Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment could immediately start redrawing the new elective district maps, or take no action before then, and possibly be at the mercy of maps crafted by a neutral expert chosen by Judge McAllister, if defendants lose their Court of Appeals challenge this month.
"Inasmuch as it appears on the surface that petitioners may be more likely to prevail, if they are to prevail at all, on their substantive challenges to the redistricting legislation than they are on their procedural challenges, there would seem to be less need for the neutral expert, if appointed by Judge McAllister pending appeal, to draft proposed maps for Assembly and Senate districts," according to Lindley's decision.
Lindley's stay upheld McAllister's order to strike the Legislature's legislation "from the books," but no longer requires lawmakers, who continued to finalize and vote on the 2023 $220 billion budget Friday, to submit new elective maps with bipartisan support by April 11.
Canvassing petitions may face legal challenges through April 21.
John Faso, a former Republican congressman and state Assembly minority leader, has accused Democrats of gerrymandering and advocated for the maps to be overturned since they were first drafted in February.
“We are pleased with the decision today, partially lifting the stay," Faso said in a statement Friday. "This will allow Judge McAllister to appoint a special master to redraw the congressional districts in a fair and nonpartisan way, as called for in the New York Constitution. If the Legislature does not act to fix the gerrymander, they run the risk of having a special master draw district lines. Ultimately, the decision will rest with the NYS Court of Appeals, but we’re encouraged that the direct language in the Constitution prohibiting partisan gerrymandering will guide their ruling.”
Friday's decision came after counsel representing both sides delivered arguments during a virtual hearing Thursday.
Officials with state Attorney General Letitia James' office immediately filed March 31 to appeal the Steuben County Supreme Court decision.