New York redistricting pits Dem incumbents against each other & Florida’s restrictive voting law is reinstated by Trump judges

New York redistricting

The New York Court of Appeals ruled last month that redistricting maps created by the state legislature were “drawn with impermissible partisan purpose” to reduce the number of competitive districts (pdf). The voided maps would have given Democrats the advantage in 22 of the state’s 26 congressional districts.

Court-appointed Special Master Jonathan Cervas, of Carnegie Mellon University, released his version of the state’s congressional districts on Monday. Compared to the previous decade’s map, Cervas’ map has one less Democratic-leaning seat, 2 fewer Republican-leaning seats, and 2 additional highly competitive seats. However, compared to the map drawn by the Democratic-controlled legislature, Cervas’ map has five fewer Democratic-leaning seats.

While the balance of power among the New York House caucus is unlikely to significantly shift under the new map, Cervas puts two pairs of Democratic lawmakers in the same district, forcing a high stakes primary season. House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney is set to face House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler in the redrawn 12th district. Both have been in office for nearly 10 years and both are in their mid-70s.

The new map also merges Rep. Mondaire Jones and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, into the same district. Jones criticized Maloney’s decision to run in the new 17th district when it makes up most of his previous territory. Furthermore, there is an open seat in the new 18th district that makes up part of the 2010 district Maloney holds.

“Sean Patrick Maloney did not even give me a heads up before he went on Twitter to make that announcement,” Jones said. “And I think that tells you everything you need to know about Sean Patrick Maloney.”

According to a report from Politico, Maloney is in hot water with members of his own party over his decision.

Maloney’s decision to abandon a newly redrawn version of his current swing district — and instead run for a seat that includes most of Rep. Mondaire Jones’ turf — is raising private concerns from across the party that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chief has put himself in an inappropriate scenario: leading the party’s midterm strategy while potentially battling a fellow member…Many of his colleagues are now bracing for the prospect of a freshman being forced to go up against the member who controls the party’s campaign coffers — a scenario they describe as completely avoidable….

At least a dozen members, mostly from swing districts, are even raising the prospect of trying to depose Maloney from his post as DCCC chair, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions.

Florida voting law

Three Trump judges unanimously reinstated stringent voting restrictions in Florida, saying a lower court judge had blocked the restrictions too close to the August primary.

Senate Bill 90, signed into law last year, makes voter registration more difficult, restricts access to mail-in voting, criminalizes the delivery of two or more mail ballots, limits access to secure ballot drop boxes, and bans providing voters in line with food or water.

In a March opinion (pdf), District Court Judge Mike Walker (an Obama appointee) not only blocked the law from taking effect, he wrote a blistering 288-page takedown of the legislature for intentionally disenfranchising Black voters:

In Florida, White Floridians outpace Black Floridians in almost every socioeconomic metric. In Florida, since the end of the Civil War, politicians have attacked the political rights of Black citizens. In Florida, though we have come far, “the realistic fact is that we still have a long, long way to go.” For the past 20 years, the majority in the Florida Legislature has attacked the voting rights of its Black constituents. They have done so not as, in the words of Dr. King, “vicious racists, with [the] governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification,” but as part of a cynical effort to suppress turnout among their opponents’ supporters. That, the law does not permit

A three judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (made up of Trump judges Newsom, Lagoa, and Brasher) overturned Walker’s ruling (pdf) on the grounds that his order came too close to the elections, violating the Purcell principle (a legal principle establishing that courts should not change election rules during the period just prior to an election because it could confuse voters and election officials).

Whatever Purcell’s outer bounds, we think that this case fits within them. When the district court here issued its injunction, voting in the next statewide election was set to begin in less than four months (and local elections were ongoing)…The plaintiffs in this case have already obtained injunctive relief upsetting the previously applicable state election procedures, and the question before us is whether the state is entitled to a stay pending appellate review of the district court’s injunction. In that posture, it seems to us, Purcell effectively serves to lower the state’s bar to obtain the stay it seeks.

The panel also criticized Walker’s historical review of voting discrimination in Florida and then faulted him for not giving the Florida legislature a presumption that it had acted in “good faith.”

First, we find the district court’s historical-background analysis to be problematic…In its assessment of SB90’s historical background, the district court led with the observation that “Florida has a grotesque history of racial discrimination.” It began its survey of that history beginning immediately after the Civil War and marched through past acts of “terrorism” and “racial violence” that occurred during the early and mid-1900s. And it concluded by seeming to chide the Supreme Court for suggesting that “[o]ur country has changed” since the Voting Rights Act was enacted in 1965. At least on our preliminary review, the district court’s inquiry does not seem appropriately “focus[ed]” or “[]limited,” as GBM requires.