Redistricting Map Splits Bed Stuy
In an interview last week on the Bryan Leher show, Congressmember Hakeem Jeffries, Chair of the Democratic Caucus, predicted exactly the draft redistricting that has resulted from the court-mandated redistricting process. 2018, 21 dem elected.
The use of a “Special Master” appointed to be “judicial overseers”, two terms the congressman has problems with, was a flawed process he said, and it was “without input from downstate voters of colors.”
“Special master should reflect the communities of interest and this one, Patrick McAllister in far western Bath, NY in New York, did not.
In a letter to Judge McAllister, Congressmember Jeffries pointing out the most egregious obstacle to participation of “Communities of Interest”, the only Public Hearing for comment.
“The Court of Appeals order which designated you as the sole judicial overseer of a redistricting
process affecting 20 million New Yorkers outlined that the Supreme Court must include “any
stakeholders who wish to be heard.” In your April 28 ruling, you indicate that any person seeking to participate shall appear for a hearing on May 6, 2022 at 9:30 a.m. in person at the Steuben County Courthouse in Bath, New York. According to the Court, if one of my many diverse constituents in Brooklyn or Queens wanted to appear in person to express their views about the redistricting litigation, their only opportunity to do so would be to venture to Steuben County, New York on a single workday this week.
The Steuben County Courthouse is not readily accessible via public transportation. There is no
airport in or around Steuben County. Amtrak does not go to the Village of Bath. It is apparently a nearly ten-hour bus ride from New York City to your location, requiring someone in Brooklyn to leave in the middle of the night, take the subway to Port Authority and depart at 1:30 a.m., only to arrive late to the hearing you have scheduled. As you probably know, most people in New York City do not own a car and use public transit to get to work, school and houses of worship.
Even if someone could afford the expense of a rental car – a burden that should not be imposed on anyone looking to participate in the democratic process – it would be a five-hour drive to the Steuben County Courthouse.”
Below is the Congressman’s reaction to the Special Master’s just-released decision.
REP. JEFFRIES BLASTS DRAFT MAP THAT VICIOUSLY TARGETS BLACK REPRESENTATION
BROOKLYN, NY – Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) issued the following statement regarding the draft Congressional District maps released by Jonathan Cervas, the Special Master chosen by Judge Patrick McAllister to redraw the maps created by a supermajority vote in the State Legislature.
“The draft map released by a Judicial Overseer in Steuben County and unelected, out-of-town Special Master, both of whom happen to be white men, is part of a vicious national pattern targeting districts represented by members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
The Court blatantly ignores the comprehensive testimony of Brooklyn residents, civic leaders and stakeholders who made clear that the communities of interest that presently constitute the 8th and 9th congressional districts should be kept together, as was the case in maps submitted by good government groups like Common Cause, civil rights groups like the Unity Coalition and even the Independent Redistricting Commission.
This draft map dilutes the Black population in the 8th and 9th congressional districts in a manner wildly inconsistent with the constitutional mandate that communities of color should be put into position to elect the candidate of their choice. The Court, shockingly, uses a sledgehammer to break into pieces the majority Black and historic neighborhood of Bedford Stuyvesant, once represented by the legendary Shirley Chisholm. The legacy Chisholm district was created in 1968 pursuant to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, with the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood at its core. Apparently, the Steuben County Court either doesn’t know this history or doesn’t care, notwithstanding voluminous public testimony.
After the 2020 election, the voters of New York State sent seven Black members to the House of Representatives, an all-time high. Right-wing activists, such as the Republican expert who clearly influenced the Court in this matter, have been trying to undue this incredible accomplishment of Black representation ever since.
Apparently, Republican operatives and conservative activists have found a sympathetic audience as a result of the broken process set forth by the New York Court of Appeals. The draft map draws four Black Members of Congress into the same district, a tactic that would make Jim Crow blush.
The right-wing Court in Steuben County has released a map that is unacceptable, unconscionable and unconstitutional.
The Court of Appeals needlessly stripped away the ability of the elected representatives of the New York State legislature to cure any defect it claimed existed. Instead, a flawed process was put into place which has now led to a flawed result. Shame on everyone involved who have brought us to this point.”