Monday, June 19, 2017

As Suffolk County Executive, Had Passed Legislation to Eliminate Political Gerrymandering

 Former Suffolk County Executive, New York State Assemblyman and radio host, Steve Levy, is available for political commentary to discuss the Supreme Court’s review of the state of Wisconsin’s redistricting plan that was deemed unconstitutional by a lower court.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear the state of Wisconsin’s appeal of a U.S. District Court ruling on its drawing of electoral districts for the state Assembly. In 2011, the state implemented the redistricting plan and, in 2012, the GOP won 60 out of 99 Assembly seats. Those who are challenging the lines say they benefited one political party over another. In November 2016, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin, ruled the new lines drawn up were considered to be partisan gerrymandering because it violated the First Amendment and equal rights protections of the Constitution. 

“Should the U.S. Supreme Court find the Wisconsin redistricting unconstitutional, then potentially every districting scheme in the United States would also be at risk,” Mr. Levy says. “Today’s decision by the court to hear the case gives hope to those reformers who have been stifled in their efforts to make the redistricting process more equitable for voters and for elected officials not serving in the majority.” 

In 2007, when Mr. Levy served as Suffolk County Executive, he drafted and passed a law that provided a politically balanced district lines so no district would continue to be dominated by one party. However, when Mr. Levy left office in late 2011, the Democratic legislators revoked the law. 

“It became clear to me at that time that it is indeed quite unlikely these needed reforms will ever come from elected officials whose only priority is self-preservation,” Mr. Levy says. 

Mr. Levy suggests that, to draw up more politically equitable lines, it should be left to an independent panel of individuals, namely a balanced board of retired judges. “We need to recognize that, in the long term, partisan gerrymandering is dangerous for both sides of the aisle.” 

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