The Albany Correspondent: Dems Dissed by Court of Appeals By CARLOS GONZALEZ

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GONZALEZ_CarlosNew Indictment of former NYS Majority Senate Leader (Republican) Joe Bruno Awaited

Indictment of former NYS Senate Majority Leader (Democrat) Pedro Espada Awaited

ALBANY, NY  — May 3, 2010 — In a unanimous decision, New York State's highest court on Thursday upheld Senate Republicans’ plans for a 63-seat chamber, thus removing hurdles and allowing for an increase in the size of New York State government.  

The new district is expected to cost taxpayers well over a million dollars.

A Senate Democrats’ lawsuit trying to throw out the Senate Republicans’ redistricting plan was blocked this morning by the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state judicial system.

Lawyers for the Democrats state that the map’s unprecedentedly creative accounting techniques were unconstitutional.  

The court, in an unanimous decision, ruled that the State Constitution doesn’t forbid the move and that the Legislature’s map are presumed constitutional unless explicitly proven otherwise.

“It is not our task to address the wisdom of the methods employed by the Legislature in accomplishing their constitutional mandate,” the court wrote in their decision. “Rather, here, we consider only whether the methods chosen amount to ‘a gross and deliberate violation of the plain intent of the Constitution and a disregard of its spirit and the purpose for which express limitations are included therein.

“Despite petitioners' [Senate Democrats] assertions, we cannot say that consistent application of one method of calculation is required, given the Constitution’s silence on this issue and our recognition that the Legislature must be accorded a measure of discretion in these matters,” continued the court. “Under these circumstances, petitioners have not met their burden of demonstrating that the use of two constitutionally adequate means of determining the number of Senate seats, in the course of addressing two discrete historical contexts, is unconstitutional.”

The decision is the second blow against the Senate Democrats’ various lawsuits on redistricting in recent days, as last week, the federal government granted pre-clearance to the map under the Voting Rights Act. 

“While we are disappointed with today’s decision, we are hopeful that remaining legal challenges will overturn the unfair State Senate maps,” Mike Murphy, the Senate Democrats’ spokesman said in a statement. “In any event, Senate Democrats remain confident that even if the existing gerrymandered maps are ultimately upheld, Democrats will gain seats and retake the majority in the State Senate this November.”

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, said in his own statement that he is “gratified that the Court of Appeals has unanimously ruled that the Senate’s reapportionment plan is fair and complies with the State Constitution.”

“Today’s decision by the State’s highest court upholds the addition of a 63rd Senate seat, consistent with the requirements of the State Constitution," continued Skelos.  "It was the Senate Democrats who wrongly dragged us into court and wasted taxpayer money pursuing this matter.

After promising for months to veto lines drawn by legislators, Cuomo agreed to a compromise with the legislature earlier this year: he signed the GOP lines–criticized by some good-government and civic groups, but an independent commission would be created for the next redistricting battle.  

Since its passage, Senate Democrats and groups opposed to the agreement, such as Common Cause, have looked to the legal system, both in Albany and Washington, for ways to invalidate the lines.

Now that the Justice Department has agreed the state’s lines are in line with the voting rights act and the state courts have said the 63-seat senate passes muster, those hoping to see the lines erased are putting their final hope in the hands of the same federal court that drew the state’s congressional lines. 

BRUNO INDICTED – AGAIN

Former state Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno has been re-indicted by a federal grand jury and is scheduled to appear in court during the deadline of this article.

The new indictment is scheduled to be unsealed today.  This story is developing and we'll bring you the news timely.

Also, we are awaiting the verdict against former Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada.  The verdict is expected shortly.

Share your thoughts with Carlos Gonzalez, The Albany Correspondent, by directing email to carlgonz1@gmail.com.

 

eHeziThe Albany Correspondent: Dems Dissed by Court of Appeals By CARLOS GONZALEZ

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