The New York Court of Appeals has ruled that the Independent Redistricting Commission can get another try in drawing the state's congressional district lines, a significant decision that will upend current races for Congress in the state and could have a major pivotal impact in 2024 for control of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a razor-thin majority, thanks in part to a string of GOP victories in New York in 2022.

In a 4-3 decision, the court decided that the commission "failed to discharge its constitutional duty" and can reconvene and submit new House maps to the state Legislature for approval by Feb. 28, 2024. As the 2014 constitutional amendment stipulates, if the commission doesn’t submit maps to the Legislature by a certain deadline, the Legislature will draw the maps themselves, as they did in 2022 before they were challenged.

“We are pleased with the Court of Appeals’ decision and look forward to getting back to work with our colleagues as soon as possible to ensure that New York’s voters receive the benefit of the historic redistricting reforms they voted for in 2014," said Ken Jenkins, chair of the Independent Redistricting Commission, said in a statement.

The ruling, a major win for Democrats, will ultimately have long-lasting ramifications for New York and the country going into the 2024 elections, and potentially for the next decade.

New York Attorney General Letitia James and Gov. Kathy Hochul released a shared statement after the ruling, saying the decision "will ensure all New Yorkers are fairly and equitably represented by elected officials."

"District lines should be drawn by the Independent Redistricting Commission. We will continue our efforts to protect voting rights for all New Yorkers," the statement read. 


The congressional lines currently in place drawn by a special master after the same Court of Appeals struck down previous Democratic-drawn maps in the spring 2022, ruling them as procedurally unconstitutional and “drawn with impermissible partisan purpose.” The Legislature drew the maps because Democrats and Republicans on the Independent Redistricting Commission failed to agree on a set of maps in time. The Legislature's maps were criticized heavily at the time by good government groups and Republicans as being heavily gerrymandered to benefit Democratic candidates. Democrats countered that argument by saying the maps represented the state’s overall Democratic electorate.

The special master-drawn maps had consequential outcomes in the 2022 midterm elections. While still taking the House of Representatives, Republicans underperformed nationwide. But in New York, the GOP did exceedingly well, winning five out of the state’s six competitive House races, flipping four seats previously held by Democrats in the process, including the House Democrats’ campaign chief.

Since the GOP won a five-seat majority in the House, those four flips proved instrumental to the current political landscape in Washington, D.C.

What’s changed since then is the Court of Appeals. Just three months after the New York Court of Appeals rejected the Democrat-drawn maps in 2022, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore announced she would step down from the bench. The deciding vote, DiFiore wrote the majority opinion in that case, which angered the state’s progressives. After the state Senate rejected her first nominee to replace her, Hochul nominated Rowan Wilson, an associate justice on the court who had dissented in the redistricting case. Wilson was confirmed in April 2023, and shortly thereafter, a group of voters filed a challenge to the congressional maps drawn by the special master.

In the past few months, Republicans in the New York House delegation and other powerful GOP officials crisscrossed the region to vocalize their opposition to Democrats’ latest efforts in this matter.

“We are disappointed but not surprised by the Court’s decision to allow Democrats a second attempt at gerrymandering the maps," Savannah Viar, deputy communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement. "Instead of focusing on policies that appeal to everyday voters, Democrats are trying to cheat their way to power. We will continue to hold them and their terrible policies--that have led to an open border, rising crime and rampant inflation -- accountable.”


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