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Between the Lines: N.Y. Court Moves Step Closer to Redrawing Map

The New York Legislature, serially deadlocked on drawing new constitutionally mandated Congressional lines, might want to add some Steve Miller Band to its playlist: because "time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' into the future."

On Tuesday, the chief judge of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals appointed a three-judge panel to examine the Legislature's moves toward a map and, likely, to appoint a special master to draw new Congressional lines.

Daniel Burstein, an associate at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, the firm representing the plaintiffs who are asking the court to draw a map, said he was pleased with the movement in the case.

The chief judge's decision "means that our three-judge panel is officially in place and we're going to proceed now with consideration with appointing a special master," he said.

"I would anticipate some kind of movement in this case next week," he added.

The chief judge, Dennis Jacobs, announced his order after Brooklyn Circuit Court Judge Dora Irizarry asked him Monday to appoint a three-judge panel to look into appointing a special master to draw Congressional lines.

Earlier, another federal judge set the Congressional primary date for June 26 and ordered the candidate petitioning process to begin March 20.

That means the lines must be in place before the middle of next month, giving the Legislature very little time to act. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has threatened to veto any lines not drawn by an independent commission. Congressional lines in the Empire State require preclearance from either the Department of Justice or a federal court before they can be enforced.

Yet those in the know still think the powers in Albany a Democratic Assembly and a Republican Senate have time to craft and pass a plan before the courts step in with finality.

"If I were a betting man, I would say they get some Congressional lines passed," said a Democrat deeply ensconced in the process.

But the clock is ticking.

Texas: Primary Date Likely Pushed Back Again

Hopes are dimming that the state will have much influence in the GOP presidential contest, thanks to redistricting litigation.

Litigation over the Congressional map has already pushed back the primary date from March 6 to April 3. Now U.S. Circuit Court Judge Jerry Smith has told Texas Republicans that the primary will be
May 29, although that date is not official, the Associated Press reported.

That late of a date would undercut the Lone Star State's relevance in the GOP presidential contest, even though Texas has 155 delegates at stake.

Attorneys spent the week arguing before a federal three-judge panel in San Antonio in an attempt to draw a map and set an April primary date. But little has been accomplished and the window for scheduling an April primary has already closed, according to some officials.

U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez suggested a June 26 primary, according to the Associated Press. The date would make Texas and Utah the last states to weigh in on the presidential nominating contest.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans were happy with that date and were reportedly hoping for a May primary.

But a Bexar County official told the court this week that without a map, it is becoming logistically impractical to hold the primary in April, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Splitting off the presidential primary is an unlikely option because of the cost of holding separate presidential and Congressional contests.

Pennsylvania: GOP Leaders Threaten to Move Primary Date

Chaos over the state legislative redistricting maps might delay Pennsylvania's April 24 primary a move that would give the Keystone State less prominence on the presidential nominating calendar and would influence several House contests.

Earlier this month the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered a state redistricting commission to redraw its proposal for the legislative districts. But there's growing concern the state Legislative Reapportionment Commission will not have enough time to pass new maps.

On Monday, state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi told reporters the primary date "is in jeopardy," according to several local news outlets including the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, Philly.com and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Pileggi and other GOP leaders unsuccessfully sued to overturn the state Supreme Court's decision in federal court. In the meantime, the state Supreme Court ordered leaders to use the maps drawn in 2001 an electoral scenario loathed by Republicans.

Pennsylvania Democrats did not sue to overturn the GOP-drawn Congressional map. As a result, only the date of the Congressional primary and not the new House district boundaries is now in question.

Connecticut: Special-Master-Drawn Map Becomes Final

The Connecticut Supreme Court last week adopted a map for the state's redrawn districts.

An independent expert known as the "special master" drew the map.

Republicans had complained earlier that the special master's plan did not adequately redraw the lines of the 5th district, according to the Associated Press, but the court rejected the GOP's argument Friday.

Reapportionment did not change the size of the state's House delegation five Members, all Democrats.

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