Here is Lerner’s full statement:
Archive for February 24th, 2012
‘No man,” wrote James Madison, the father of our Constitution, “is allowed to be a judge in his own cause.”
That very sensible prohibition on self-dealing is reliably violated during the once-a-decade spectacle of redistricting, when elected officials get the chance to draw their own districts.
Self-dealing of any kind is bad enough, but the scale on which it has been practiced by the New York State Legislature is in a class by itself. For all but two of the last 40 or so years, a corrupt deal between the major parties has kept the Senate in Republican hands and the Assembly under Democratic control — in a state where registrations run Democratic by nearly 2 to 1.
“Governor Cuomo in the campaign as candidate for governor made a pledge about vetoing lines that would be drawn in a partisan way,” Abrams said. “We have for the first time some lever of power of the legislature.”
Bill Hammond and I report:
“We need a permanent solution,” Abrams said of the once-a-decade procedure that “contaminates the democratic process.”
The ideal method, he said, would be for Gov. Cuomo to use his leverage for government reform. Should the legislature improve the current maps, give passage to a constitutional amendment and pass a reform law that takes place immediately, Cuomo should do away with his veto vow and reach an agreement with lawmakers.
The group, led by Senator Betty Little, a Republican from Warren County, filed a lawsuit last year claiming the 2010 law was unconstitutional. The state senators, whose upstate districts include prisons, wanted to reinstate the old method of counting prisoners where they are incarcerated, a practice opponents call “prison gerrymandering.”
Cobbled together behind closed doors in total secrecy, the district lines would fragment neighborhoods and sprawl across counties and cities, in disregard of local concerns and communities. To entrench themselves in office, the majority party in each chamber created these districts to avoid competition and force incumbents of the minority party to run against each other.