It took exactly four weeks for the case of the unconstitutional Assembly districts to get back to New York’s highest court – which said, in its ruling invalidating gerrymandered congressional and Senate maps, that the third set of maps should also be void. The Court of Appeals must now promptly finish the job they began on April 27, and clean up what Manhattan Federal Court Judge Paul Engelmayer rightly calls the “botch” of this year’s primaries caused by “the illegal act of the state Legislature.”
Engelmayer expressed his disgust with Albany as he had to turn down a plea from the League of Women Voters (although he agreed that the League has “a right to be angry”) to move the rump June 28 primary for governor to August to coincide with congressional and state Senate contests, as ordered by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore in the Court of Appeals’ majority opinion. DiFiore kept the Assembly maps temporarily alive and set for June as no one had sued to knock them down, but Engelmayer noted, “It would seem the Assembly maps are on life support.”
Pull the plug. As Engelmayer spoke yesterday in the federal courthouse at 40 Center St., next door in 60 Center St., Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Larry Love was finishing his final judgment on a challenge to those illegal Assembly maps. As predicted by everyone, Love, a tool of the Queens Democratic machine, denied, denied, denied every claim in the case.
But at least Love was quick and at least he was final. The nature of his ruling – involving solely a constitutional question – allows a rare direct avenue to bring the matter straight back to DiFiore and the Court of Appeals. So now again, they can answer a question they already resolved: Were the Assembly lines drawn in violation?
The answer is yes. The remedy is for the courts to get out an eraser, and then a pen. Redraw the districts – and then move the primary.