Last week, the judge in the redistricting case took submissions from the public on where New York’s new congressional lines should lie, and one group, “the Orthodox Alliance for Liberty,” submitted a plan aiming to unite as many Jewish communities as possible, especially Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau, and upstate.
In order to justify their proposal, the group argued the lines proposed by the legislative majorities, as well as the existing congressional boundaries, are wholly unacceptable.
“The current districting of the Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in the New York City and Long Island area, as well as the maps proposed by the New York State Senate and Assembly majorities are untenable,” they wrote to the court. “The sizable, distinct and ethnic and racial group of Orthodox Jews has been systematically deprived of just representation in the U.S. Congress. This Orthodox Alliance for Liberty implores the Honorable Court to correct an egregious wrong and restore a full voice for New York’s Orthodox Jews in the U.S. Congress.”
Over the last 48 hours, New York’s media, including The Politicker, has been breathlessly providing wall-to-wall coverage of the Senate Republicans’ and Assembly Democrats’ redistricting proposals, which were finally released around midnight last night. Candidates have been reacting strongly as well. One boldly declared a path to victory in last night’s maps, while another amazingly announced his intentions to buy a house in the new district.
However, the maps everyone is reacting to are not likely to relate at all to where the ultimate lines will fall.
First of all, even if the maps had any significant legal weight, it would be impossible to predict how the courts would resolve two opposing proposals.
Secondly, and more importantly, the maps have very little legal influence. One redistricting expert told The Politicker the maps are the equivalent of a “John Q. Public” map that literally anyone can submit to the court.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has so heavily hedged on whether or not he will veto the Legislature’s redistricting proposal that even ardent experts in Kremlinology — the Soviet-era practice of grasping onto tidbits of information broadcasted from behind the Iron Curtain — would be soundly challenged.
Complicating the whole matter is the issue’s obscurity. Redistricting simply isn’t relevant to most New Yorkers. The average person on the street probably doesn’t know who most of his or her local representatives are, let alone where the boundaries lie. Yet editorial boards and good government groups believe the practice of letting legislators pick their voters, instead of the other way around, is at the core of many of the structural problems in Albany.
For that reason, Mr. Cuomo has vowed time and time again to veto the legislature’s maps and send the entire cartographic process to the courts, which the first five or so quotes from the slideshow will demonstrate. However, his rhetoric began hinting a move in another direction at the end of last year.