Camara Calls COA Ruling ‘Disenfranchisement’


Assemblyman Camara

The SOP blog reports on reaction from Brooklyn Assemblyman Karim Camara to the NY Court of Appeals ruling upholding the constitutionality of the formula creating a sixty-three seat State Senate.

Assemblyman Karim Camara, the chairman of the Legislature’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus, in a statement this morning said the decision undermined political representation.

“It is quite shocking and disappointing that the Court of Appeals has struck down the challenge to blatantly partisan Senate lines. According to the Court, it is not unconstitutional to apply inconsistent formulas when determining something as serious as political representation. The stunning assertion that “consistent application” of one formula is not required, says that based on location certain constituents are entitled to better representation. This is a blatant attempt at retaining power and our politically neutral courts have upheld one of the most partisan drawing decisions ever, which many advocates believe, are an assault on the Voting Rights Act and were designed with the interest of maintaining a Republican controlled Senate. For the constituents of the downstate community the message is clear- your vote has been officially diminished and diluted.”

As much as I admire my friend Assemblyman Camara, his statement ignores the reality of the COA operating environment. The Court ruled only on the constitutionality of the senate redistricting formula, not on the disenfranchisement of minority voters. Both formulas have been ruled constitutional in separate previous rulings. The state constitution gives the Legislature the power to add senate districts using either or both formulas. The COA ruling is bound by precedent and the state constitution. No other ruling was possible.

Despite Camara’s disagreement and disappointment, a “politically neutral” court cannot declare a redistricting plan unconstitutional simply because it’s blatantly partisan. Separation of powers and politics doctrine.

The proper arena for the issues raised by Assemblyman Camara is the federal court hearing the Favors v. Cuomo case. But the outcome there may be similar for constitutionally similar reasons. Now that the senate districting formulas have been ruled constitutional by the state courts, the federal court has to rule if the formulations and the population variances used result in constitutionally prohibited harm to minority voters. DOJ pre-clearance makes that argument harder but not impossible to make. But the arguments filed by the Favors plaintiffs seem without concrete proof of voter dilution and constitutionally prohibited harm.

The only real world response is “organize, organize, organize” to elect an Democratic senate majority.

Read more – Camara Calls COA Ruling ‘Disenfranchisement’.

About SquarePegDem

A former state legislator turned NY Post editorial board member, thought-leader, public affairs consultant and commentator, columnist and blogger. Michael has appeared on Al Jazeera America Tonight, NY1/Inside City Hall, FoxNews.com LIVE, YNN/Capital Tonight, The Brian Lehrer Show, The Fred Dicker Show, The Capitol Press Room, and The Daily Show. His op-eds have appeared in the NY Post, City and State, The Legislative Gazette, Bronx Times, The Troy Record, Buffalo News, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. To schedule speaking engagements, email MBenjamin9@optimum.net.
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