We previously discussed how a New York judge struck down the new voting districts pushed through by Democrats as unconstitutional gerrymandering. That was followed by another blistering decision striking down the Democratic plan for Maryland as “extreme partisan gerrymandering.” Now an appellate court has also found that Democrats were trying to rig the next election and the five-judge panel ruled against the plan. The Democrats also recently lost a redistricting fight in Wisconsin after their map was found to be “racially motivated” and unconstitutional.
“Voters should choose their representatives — not the other way around.” Those words by President Biden followed a decision by North Carolina’s supreme court rejecting new state legislative districts that favored Republicans.
While denouncing Republicans for gerrymandering as attack on democracy, Democratic figures like lawyer Marc Elias are under attack for raising millions to support Democratic gerrymandering.
Elias declared “Republicans gerrymander like this because they do not want free and fair elections.”
Nevertheless, Democratic figures are pledging to fight for these gerrymandered maps, including Gov. Kathy Hochul and top legislative leaders.
The New York plan was a raw and obvious effort to rig the election. Indeed, the district designed to reelect House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler would make Elbridge Gerry blush. In 1812, Gerry — a Founding Father, vice president and governor of Massachusetts — signed off on a district designed to guarantee a seat for the precursor of today’s Democratic Party. The district resembled a salamander, so the Boston Gazette deemed it the “Gerry-mander.”
Republicans currently hold eight of New York’s 27 seats in Congress. (The state will lose one district due to population declines). Despite being a state in which roughly 38 percent of voters went for Trump in 2020, Republicans would have an advantage only in four districts under the redrawn map, allowing Democrats to pick up the other four. For example, Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis previously beat an incumbent, Democrat Max Rose, in the 11th District. To guarantee that Rose will win, Democrats stretched the district to include the liberal area of Park Slope in Brooklyn.
Notably, Democrats are celebrating one aspect of the ruling. The appellate court ruling would allow the Democrats to control the next map after ignoring the express wishes of the voters of New York.
In 2014, New Yorkers took the extraordinary step of amending Sections 4 and 5 of Article III of their state’s constitution. They created the New York Independent Redistricting Commission to prohibit drawing maps “for the purpose of favoring or disfavoring incumbents or other particular candidates or political parties.” (N.Y. Const. art. III, § 4(c)(5)).
However, the fix was in. After proclaiming a new day of fair and honest elections, the commission was set at ten members divided evenly. Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, a Queens Democrat, admitted that the commission was designed to fail: “Of course it was. When you have an equal amount of people from either side, you are inevitably going to get a deadlock or a tie. And that’s exactly what happened here.”
In other words, all the democracy stuff was a lie. When the commission inevitably deadlocked, the Democratic-controlled legislature went on a gerrymandering frenzy.
Now, the appellate ruling would allow the reinstatement of the state Senate rather than require the use of the commission or a bipartisan process. Democrats are celebrating that the Commission effort is now effectively dead. Mike Murphy, a spokesman for Senate Democrats, said they were “pleased” that the appeals court had effectively validated the prior Assembly and Senate maps.
In other words, the New York voters were chumps. They demanded an end to gerrymandering but the Democratic members created a commission designed to fail so that the prior system remains in effect.
Gerrymandering continues to be a practice by both parties. However, the New York map is a glaring example where a pro-democracy effort from voters was knowingly scuttled by politicians. Likewise, as figures like Elias raise millions to “fight for democracy,” courts like the one in Maryland ruled that the Democratic map not only violate a host of constitutional protections but “subverts the will of those governed.”
What is striking is the silence of many in the media and the party itself, including figures like Biden and Obama. The outcry over protecting democracy ring hallow when Democrats are actively seeking to rig elections and negate the pro-democratic measures passed by voters.