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NY Supreme Court Upholds Constitutionality of 63rd Senate Seat
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On Friday, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Richard Braun held that those who had challenged the creation of the 63rd Senate district in New York had failed to prove that the challenged plan was unconstitutional or illegal. The voters and Senate Democrats who had challenged the creation of New York’s 63rd Senate district had alleged that the plan of creating the district was faulty and illegal because it combined two different methods of counting residents.

The city can proceed to add a 63rd seat to the state Senate following the procedures it had decided upon earlier.

Justice Braun wrote, “Although this court finds disturbing the legislature’s use of one method for Queens and Nassau Counties and a different method for Richmond and Suffolk Counties, petitioners have not sustained their heavy burden of demonstrating beyond a reasonable doubt that the legislature has acted unconstitutionally.”

  
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The lawsuit had been filed on January 31 by Senator Martin Dilan representing Brooklyn and voters. They had originally sued New York’s Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR) which was responsible to redo the state’s congressional maps and redraw the state’s Assembly and Senate districts reflecting population shifts.

The original suit claimed that LATFOR violated the state Constitution by employing two different methods to calculate population and justify the boundaries of a 63rd Senate seat. The plaintiffs claimed that Section 4 of the state Constitution was infringed and the formula propounded by Section 4 for recalculating state Senate seats following each Census was not followed.

The lawsuit alleged that LATFOR used different methods of counting population with respect to different sections of boundaries of the new Senate district according to the convenience of Republicans.

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However, in 1972, both the methods of calculations employed by LATFOR had been found constitutional in Schneider v. Rockefeller, and the case of the plaintiffs that LATFOR must pick either one or the other for all calculations was found without merit.

Braun had earlier dismissed the suit on March 9, holding that it couldn’t be decided upon merits unless the bill became law. Cuomo signed the bill into law on March 15. Subsequently, on the same day, the plaintiffs refiled the action.



The case is Cohen v. Cuomo, in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County, No. 102185/12.



 

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