A Nassau County judge has ruled that the legislature cannot vote Republicans’ proposed redistricting into law for this year’s election.
Judge Steven Jaeger ruled in favor of Nassau Democratic legislators in their suit against County Executive Ed Mangano and Republican members of the legislature and granted a temporary restraining order to stop the maps from going into effect this year.
“We’re encouraged that the court agreed with us that this hasty redistricting plan, which violates our county charter, should be stopped in its tracks,” said David Gugerty, counsel for the minority. “We’re further confident that when the merits of this action are heard, the court will agree with us. This is the best and most sensible method so voters are not disenfranchised.”
The Republicans proposed redistricting would move more than 500,000 voters into new districts and would likely impact elections for the next decade. It would place half of the Five Towns into a newly created minority district, Hempstead into three districts, divide Bellmore and Merrick and add Seaford to Denise Ford’s district.
“As I expected, the courts rejected the county attorney’s and the Republican majority’s unique and absurd interpretation of the county charter to require redistricting two years in a row and less than every 10 years," said Legis. Dave Denenberg, D-Merrick. "Not only is this ill-fated plan unfair and illegal but it would have cost taxpayers millions of dollars. To me, wasting taxpayers money is never acceptable.”
Nassau County Attorney John Ciampoli called the action “unprecedented and contrary to the law.” He also cited a case law from the appellate division that says the legislature cannot be stopped from acting.
Democratic attorney Steve Schlesinger said the decision means there could be redistricting until the court makes its final determination. He said he’d assume the legislature would table the vote on the maps on Monday. The case may return to court May 26.
“I don’t think this is so much [a victory] for the Democratic Party, but for the people of Nassau County for a full and open redistricting process,” he said. “Not move 500,000 people and move them around and craft a super-majority for yourself, locked away in a room, and not tell anyone.”
Nassau Legislative Majority Leader Peter Schmitt, R-Massapequa, added "we’re reviewing the judge’s decision."
Geoffrey Walter and Jaime Sumersille contributed to this story.