UPDATED 5:35 p.m. | A federal three-judge panel begrudgingly adopted a court-drawn Congressional redistricting plan for New York, locking in lines for this November’s election after the perpetually deadlocked Empire State Legislature failed to fulfill its constitutional responsibility to update a map to reflect changes in population.
On March 12, federal Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann released a proposed map. In today’s opinion, the three-judge panel ordered the state of New York to adopt that plan “in its entirety.” The panel made tiny tweaks to Mann’s map in a few districts that won’t materially affect any candidates or political outcomes.
“[W]hen, as here, a state completely abdicates its congressional redistricting duties, it effectively cedes state power to the federal government,” the court wrote. “Further, it transfers power that should be exercised by democratic bodies to a judiciary ill equipped to resolve competing policy arguments. Such a twin recalibration of important power balances in a federal republic is itself ‘unwelcome.'”
Still, the court said the Legislature’s time had expired — the candidate petitioning period starts this week — and took matters into its own hands.
This resolves the largest outstanding redistricting question mark in the country. Kansas and New Hampshire remain the only other states without Congressional lines for 2012.
The case that prompted this ruling was brought by a group of concerned citizens who believed the delay of the Democrat-held state Assembly and Republican-controlled state Senate to draw new Congressional lines was undermining New York residents’ rights. The case is Favors, et al v. Cuomo, et al and the final ruling of the court can be read here (PDF).
A map of the newly-configured districts can be seen here (PDF).