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A mid-level appeals court in New York State ruled late Thursday that Democrats illegally drew up new congressional maps to unfairly benefit their own party.

A panel of five judges wrote that Democrats unconstitutionally drew up congressional districts “to discourage competition or for the purpose of favoring or disfavoring incumbents or other particular candidates or political parties.” Two of the judges dissented.

The Assembly Chamber is pictured during a legislative session at the state Capitol Friday, April 8, 2022, in Albany, NY

The Assembly Chamber is pictured during a legislative session at the state Capitol Friday, April 8, 2022, in Albany, NY
(AP Photo / Hans Pennink)

The judges said that Democratic lawmakers drafted the 2022 congressional redistricting map “without any Republican input, and the map was adopted by the legislature without a single Republican vote n favor of it.”

A group of Republican voters had argued that the maps amounted to gerrymandering and filed a lawsuit in state court asking to have the maps to be tossed out and to delay the June congressional primaries until late August. They say this would give the state enough time to draw up new maps.

Democrats’ attorneys said the maps are more than fair to Republicans, who lost their decadeslong control of the state Senate in 2018 but have won some swing districts. Democrats say the new maps protect minority voting rights and reflect population loss in upstate communities once considered Republican strongholds.

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Democrats also said there is not enough time to change the maps for 2022 races, and say the judges should toss the lawsuit because it does not include voters in all districts statewide.

A lower-court judge declared last month that New York’s new maps were unconstitutionally gerrymandered, and said the legislative maps should also be tossed because lawmakers exceeded their authority when they passed them.

Attorneys for the state Senate, Assembly and Gov. Kathy Hochul appealed to the lower-court ruling and said the judge was wrongly limiting the Legislature’s power.

New York Gov.  Kathy Hochul speaks at a news conference in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Tuesday, April 12, 2022.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at a news conference in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Tuesday, April 12, 2022.
(AP Photo / John Minchillo)

A panel of five mid-level appellate judges began hearing arguments Wednesday. The case will now be heard by New York’s top court where oral arguments could be as early as next week.

The decision will have major implications for Democrats going into the June 28 primary ahead of the midterm elections in November.

Democrats had anticipated that the new lines drawn up would give them an edge in the election, particularly in light of the Florida Senate having recently approved a congressional map proposal that would help pave the way for large GOP gains in the state.

So far this election cycle, courts have intervened to block maps they found to be Republican gerrymanders in North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and a Democratic gerrymander in Maryland. Such decisions have led to delayed primaries in North Carolina, Ohio and Maryland.

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Republicans represent about 22% of registered New York voters, and currently hold eight of the state’s 27 seats in Congress. But New York now gets one less seat following the 2020 Census, and the new maps would give Democrats a strong majority of registered voters in 22 of the state’s 26 congressional districts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.