New York’s top court is weighing a constitutional challenge by state Senate Democrats who claim Republicans improperly used two different formulas to redraw the election map that created a 63rd Senate district upstate. Nick Reisman has more.
NEW YORK STATE -- Governor Andrew told reporters and his cabinet that he expects a relatively quiet end to the legislative session. But if a variety of court challenges could reignite the contentious redistricting process, a plan that the governor himself approved in March. Senate Democrats are challenging the legality of adding a 63rd seat to the chamber.
“The signing of the bill does not preclude the legal analysis of the plan and that is exactly where we are. There are all sorts of discussions on whether or not the 63rd seat is legal. Now we're going to find out and if it's not the legislature is going to have to come back and revise the plan,” Cuomo said.
The lawsuit filed by Democrats against the plan has made its way to the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals where lawyers for both sides on Thursday gave their opening arguments. Cuomo himself is a defendant, but he has tried to stay above the fray.
Cuomo said, “I don't want to politicize the situation so a court will make a determination and that will be the binding determination.”
The new seat was carved out of the Albany area and created a district seen as an easy pick up for the GOP. The chamber is divided 32 to 29 with one vacancy. Senate Republicans who drew their own lines expect the seat to be upheld.
“I believe that our plan is certainly constitutionally sound. I'm very hopeful the court of appeals sees it that way as did the trial court,” State Senator Michael Nozolio said.
Senate Democrats hope to regain power in the chamber after losing the majority they held for a tumultuous, two year term. Senator Mike Gianaris was still hopeful the court would intervene and draw the state lines like a federal magistrate did for the Congressional districts.
“The federal court that had the special master drawn the federal lines to critical acclaim, they are still active, they are taking stock it's entirely within the realm of possibility if this plan gets knocked out we will have court-drawn lines which will be fairer,” Gianaris said.