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New York: Court Steps Into Redistricting Morass

A federal judge has begun the process of moving New York’s Congressional redistricting toward the courts.

In an order released Monday night, Brooklyn U.S. District Court Judge Dora Irizarry asked the chief judge of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals to appoint a three-judge panel to appoint a special master to draw Congressional lines. She cited the impending Congressional candidate petitioning process, set to begin on March 20, as an impetus for the ruling.

The court’s decision could be a spur in the deadlocked Legislature’s side.

“Notably,” Irizarry wrote, “in 1992 and 2002, the New York State Legislature acted only after there was judicial intervention.”

If the court, instead of the Legislature, ends up drawing the map, it could be a boon to many incumbents as well as to lawmakers who are reportedly under the ax.

“A special master may come as a relief to some Members but not to others,” said an attorney involved in New York redistricting. “Some [Members] who are very wary of what might happen to them” with lines drawn by politicians “might find themselves with a better plan” under a special master.

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