The decision by the New York State Court of Appeals to deny the appeal case of New Baltimore attorney and child advocate Gary Greenberg, who sought to delay the primaries until August, adds another twist in the story of this already confounding election season.
In April, the State Court of Appeals ruled that congressional and state Senate maps drawn by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul were unconstitutional. An “independent master” in May handed in a new set of maps creating more balanced and competitive districts.
That ruling, however, left New York state in the awkward position of having two primary dates — the first on June 28 and the second on Aug. 23 — for state Senate and congressional seats before the general election in November.
The plot thickened when Antonio Delgado vacated his congressional seat to become the state’s new lieutenant governor, leaving the 19th Congressional District up for grabs. It culminated Tuesday in the Senate, when the new lines produced the strange sight of partisan allies turning into bitter rivals. This was demonstrated when Republican state Sen. Daphne Jordan berated newfound competitor Republican Jim Tedisco for running against her in the new 44th District.
Then a five-judge panel in the State Appellate Court sided with New Baltimore attorney Gary Greenberg and fellow plaintiffs Paul Nichols and Gavin Wax that the state Assembly redistricting maps drawn by the state Legislature in February were unconstitutional. The rub is that the maps can’t be redrawn until the 2024 election cycle.
This ruling has embarrassing and disturbing implications. The 2022 Assembly primaries could be contested with justifiably unconstitutional districts. Electing state Assembly members in unconstitutional districts could open the door wide for new demands for redrawn maps and, worse, Assembly members elected on illegitimate petitions voting on legislation that could be challenged in court.
This humiliating situation puts New York in a dark place. Voters are free-falling into an election that will damage the rule of law and shred the credibility of the state constitution for years to come.