ALBANY — A federal judge on Wednesday denied a Dem-backed injunction attempting to force the state to move ahead with a June congressional primary using district maps scrapped last week by New York’s highest court.
U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan called the legal move led by lawyers for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee a “longshot” before denying their temporary restraining order.
“Let’s be frank, this is a Hail Mary pass, the object of which is to take a longshot try at having the New York primaries conducted on district lines that the state says are unconstitutional,” Kaplan said.
The lawsuit filed against the state Board of Elections asked for a panel of federal judges to effectively block a state court-mandated move rescheduling New York’s congressional and state Senate primaries to August after the Court of Appeals ruled that Dem-drawn maps were unconstitutional.
In a letter sent to the court late Tuesday, lawyers for the Board of Elections pointed out what they saw as several problems with the suit.
“Fundamentally, the plaintiffs are seeking a remedy on the premise that New York has run out of time to implement new districts for a Congressional primary and general election in 2022. This is simply not true,” they wrote.
Kaplan instructed the board to seek approval for the August primary date from District Judge Gary Sharpe, a federal jurist in the Northern District of New York who ruled in 2012 that the state must hold its congressional primaries in June.
“If that court accommodates the state’s new schedule, there is really no question here,” Kaplan said.
A three-judge federal panel is still expected to hear the case.
The courtroom drama comes after New York’s election calendar was already thrown into chaos.
The Court of Appeals decision striking down maps drawn by the Democratic-led Legislature led to Steuben County State Supreme Court Justice Patrick McAllister hiring an independent expert to draw new, nonpartisan district lines in addition to moving the congressional and senate primaries.
The Board of Elections, Gov. Hochul and Legislative leaders have said they see no reason at the moment to move primaries for statewide races, Assembly seats and local races to August.
That may change.
A legal brief was filed earlier this week by the head of the New York Young Republican Club calling for the Assembly districts to be tossed.
A separate suit, first reported by the Daily News, filed late Tuesday calls on the courts to also scrap the Assembly maps and push all the primaries to August.
The suit from Gary Greenberg, a part-owner in the Vernon Downs Casino and longtime advocate for laws supporting survivors of child sex abuse, calls on McAllister to invalidate petitions submitted by existing candidates for any office, including for the state Assembly and Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and statewide offices since signatures were collected based on the since-tossed congressional maps.
“The legislature’s actions prove the truth of the familiar saying: absolute power corrupts absolutely. Mr. Greenberg’s petition is different from the two prior filings, as it is the only petition that requests the kind of full and complete relief that New Yorkers deserve,” said Jim Walden, Greenberg’s attorney.