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Brooklyn Federal Judges Still Likely To Decide State's Congressional Districts

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TWC News: Brooklyn Federal Judges Still Likely To Decide State's Congressional Districts
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While Albany lawmakers passed legislation Wednesday night that will create new state legislative districts, by Thursday there was still no agreement on how to redraw congressional districts, meaning the lines recently drawn by a federal judge will likely become law. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

Due to slow population growth, New York must lost two of its 29 seats in the House of Representatives this year. But Albany lawmakers could not agree on which two seats, so it is now up to a federal court in Brooklyn.

Richard Mancino is the lead attorney in a redistricting lawsuit that led to the maps being drawn by a federal magistrate. A three-judge panel is now reviewing her proposal, and held a public hearing in federal court on Thursday.

“We’re thrilled with the outcome,” said Mancino. “This is precisely what we wanted to see happen, which is have three judges, assisted by the magistrate judge, actually taking over a broken process.”

Good-government advocates give the court's maps high marks.

“The people of the State of New York are winning in the courtroom. They have lost in the legislative halls,” said Susan Lerner of Common Cause New York.

But not everyone is happy. The Republican majority in the State Senate complained the court did not consider incumbency. Republican Congressman Bob Turner’s district, for example, was eliminated, his home drawn into a neighboring district. Some minority groups also have complaints.

“We’re very frustrated, because we have the largest Orthodox Jewish community in New York in southern Brooklyn. And we’ve been split into four different congressional districts,” said Brooklyn Councilman David Greenfield.

“The Latino population of New York merits at least five congressional districts for Latinos, represented by Latinos. Right now, we only have two,” said Maria Teresa Feliciano of the Dominican American National Roundtable.

One problem is that Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel’s district is now majority Hispanic and civil rights advocates say that could pit blacks against Latinos.

“It would put us in the same district and that would cause some conflict, which we don’t need,” said Hazel Dukes of NAACP New York State Conference.

The three-judge panel will finalize the Congressional map by next Tuesday, the day candidates can begin gathering signatures to get on the ballot.

The congressional primary elections are scheduled to take place on June 26.

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