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Favors v. Drayton

United States District Court, E.D. New York

May 22, 2014

MARK A. FAVORS, HOWARD LEIB, LILLIE H. GALAN, EDWARD A. MULRAINE, WARREN SCHREIBER, and WEYMAN A. CAREY, Plaintiffs,
v.
DONNA KAYE DRAYTON, EDWIN ELLIS, AIDA FORREST, GENE A. JOHNSON, JOY WOOLLEY, SHEILA WRIGHT, LINDA LEE, SHING CHOR CHUNG, JULIA YANG, JUNG HO HONG, JUAN RAMOS, NICK CHAVARRIA, GRACIELA HEYMANN, SANDRA MARTINEZ, EDWIN ROLDAN, MANOLIN TIRADO, LINDA ROSE, EVERET MILLS, ANTHONY HOFFMAN, KIM THOMPSON-WEREKOH, CARLOTTA BISHOP, CAROL RINZLER, GEORGE STAMATIADES, JOSEPHINE RODRIGUEZ, and SCOTT AUSTER, Intervenor-Plaintiffs,
v.
ANDREW M. CUOMO, as Governor of the State of New York, ROBERT J. DUFFY, as President of the Senate of the State of New York, DEAN G. SKELOS, as Majority Leader and President Pro Tempore of the Senate of the State of New York, SHELDON SILVER, as Speaker of the Assembly of the State of New York, JOHN L. SAMPSON, as Minority Leader of the Senate of the State of New York, BRIAN M. KOLB, as Minority Leader of the Assembly of the State of New York, NEW YORK STATE LEGISLATIVE TASK FORCE ON DEMOGRAPHIC RESEARCH AND REAPPORTIONMENT (

OPINION AND ORDER

REENA RAGGI, Circuit Judge.

This three-judge court was originally convened on February 14, 2012, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2284(a), to address the original plaintiffs' complaint that defendants had failed to redraw New York's state and federal congressional districts in a manner consistent with the results of the 2010 Census, and had thus deprived plaintiffs of their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote. At the time the original complaint was filed, the New York State legislature (the "Legislature") had simply been unable to enact a plan to redraw congressional and legislative districts in conformity with the census; with respect to the congressional districts in particular, this failure left New York not only with malapportioned districts, but with the wrong number of districts, as New York had lost two seats in the House of Representatives. In light of this impasse, and with primary elections looming, the Court was compelled to redraw the congressional districts. See Favors v. Cuomo, No. 11-cv-5632 (RR)(GEL)(DLI)(RLM), 2012 WL 928223 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 19, 2012).

In the meantime, the Legislature reached an agreement on a plan to redraw the state legislative districts, which was duly enacted and signed by the Governor on March 15, 2012. The adoption of this plan mooted the "impasse" claims of the original plaintiffs, insofar as those claims concerned the new districting plan, but did not end the litigation. While the new districting plan for the state Assembly proved uncontroversial - whether because it was an ideal plan or because it left the traditional Democratic majority in place, and no constitutionally feasible plan to disturb that majority could easily be imagined - the plan for the state Senate (the "Senate Plan") provoked claims, both by some of the parties to the original litigation and by various intervenor-plaintiffs and cross-claimants, that the Senate Plan violated the Constitution of the United States.[1] This opinion resolves the outstanding substantive claims that have been raised in this action.

Because of the complex procedural history of the case, it will be helpful to clarify the identity of the various parties. Since the original complaint asserted that the Legislature, by its inaction, had created an unconstitutional situation, the original plaintiffs named the majority and minority leaders of both houses of the Legislature, as well as the New York State Governor and the members of the advisory body created by the Legislature to advise it on districting issues, the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment ("LATFOR"), as defendants. Once the legislative redistricting plan was adopted, the Senate Plan was challenged by three groups of intervenor-plaintiffs: the Drayton Intervenors, representing black voters in New York State, the Ramos Intervenors, representing Hispanic voters in New York State, and the Lee Intervenors, representing Asian voters in New York State. The Lee Intervenors' outstanding claims were resolved by this court's Judgment Order of November 5, 2013, Dkt. Entry 639, an order which also resolved the Drayton and Ramos Intervenors' various Voting Rights Act and congressional redistricting claims. Therefore only the Drayton and Ramos Intervenors (together, the "Intervenors") remain parties to this litigation, and only with regards to their various equal protection claims.

In addition, Senate Minority Leader John L. Sampson and Democrat-appointed LATFOR member Senator Martin Malave Dilan (the "Cross-Claimants") filed a cross-claim challenging the constitutionality of the Senate Plan.[2] Although the complaints raised by the Intervenors and Cross-Claimants (together, for the purposes of this memorandum, the "Plaintiffs") named as defendants the Governor and the leadership of both parties in the Assembly, because the objections by the Plaintiffs are directed towards the Senate Plan, the defense of the Senate Plan has been provided by the members of the Senate associated with the Republican Majority (the "Senate Majority Defendants"), including Robert J. Duffy, the President of the Senate, and Dean G. Skelos, the Majority Leader.

The remaining substantive claims of the litigation are addressed in this opinion. The Plaintiffs contend that the Senate Plan violates voters' constitutionally guaranteed right to equal representation in state legislatures, which requires that "houses of a state legislature must be apportioned on a population basis." Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 577 (1964); see also Motion to Amend/Correct/Supplement Answer to Amended Complaint by Martin Malave Dilan, John L. Sampson, Dkt. Entry 344, at 1-2; Drayton Intervenors' First Amended Complaint for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief, Dkt. Entry 254, at 18; Ramos Intervenors' First Amended Complaint, Dkt. Entry 257, at 8. The Intervenors further contend that the Senate Plan was the product of impermissible racial animus and thus violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. See Motion to Intervene by Donna Kaye Drayton et. al., Dkt. Entry 28; Notice of Motion to Intervene for Juan Ramos, et. al., Dkt. Entry 37. The Senate Majority Defendants have moved for summary judgment with regards to both sets of these claims. See Notice of Motion for Summary Judgment on all Equal-Population Claims Asserted Against the Senate Plan, Dkt. Entry 420.

While the Senate Plan does not reflect perfect equality in population apportionment, its minor deviations comport with the discretion afforded to the states to legislate their own redistricting. We thus conclude that the Senate Plan does not violate the one-person one-vote principle, and grant the Senate Majority Defendants' motion for summary judgment as to the Plaintiffs' claims. Because, after adequate opportunity for discovery, the Intervenors have failed to produce any evidence suggesting that the redistricting process was infected by racial prejudice, we grant the Senate Majority Defendants' motion for summary judgment as to the Intervenors' racial discrimination claims. We elaborate on the reasoning for both these decisions more extensively below. We assume familiarity with the record of prior proceedings in this case, and review the facts as necessary to address the motions before us.

DISCUSSION

I. The One-Person One-Vote Equal Protection Claim

The Plaintiffs allege that the Senate Plan is rendered unconstitutional by its violation of the one-person one-vote principle articulated in Reynolds, and the Senate Majority Defendants move for summary judgment on this claim. To succeed on a summary judgment motion the moving party must demonstrate "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears "the burden... to demonstrate that no genuine issue respecting any material fact exists, " and in reviewing a motion for summary judgment, "all ambiguities must be resolved and all inferences drawn in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought." Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., 22 F.3d 1219, 1223 (2d Cir. 1994).

The Plaintiffs' version of the relevant facts is offered in the Declaration of Todd Breitbart, Dkt. Entry 327, and the exhibits thereto. That declaration contains the population data which underlie the Plaintiffs' allegations that the Senate Plan violates the Equal Protection Clause. Those data establish that the population deviation range of the Senate Plan - calculated by adding together the percentage deviation from the ideally populated district of the most over-populated district and the most under-populated district - is 8.80%, and the average (mean) deviation of all districts is 3.67%. Id., Ex. 2 at 20.[3] The effect of these deviations from perfect population equality is, the Plaintiffs contend, to allocate approximately one seat to the New York "upstate region" that, if the districts contained exactly equal population, would be allocated to the "New York City" region. Decl. of Todd Breitbart at 8-9, ¶¶ 19-22, Dkt. Entry 327.

The Plaintiffs claim that, based on this evidence, it is apparent that

the population deviations in the 2012 Senate plan result not from any good faith effort to pursue traditional redistricting principles, but rather from the Senate Majority's single-minded effort to maximize partisan advantage for the Republicans without exceeding a ten percent total deviation.... [T]he Senate Majority increased the size of the Senate to 63 seats under false pretenses and maximally under-populated virtually all of the upstate districts in order to shoehorn an additional district into the upstate region that it expects a Republican will win.

Memorandum in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment at 1, Dkt. Entry 453. The Plaintiffs further argue that, at the least, they should receive the opportunity to conduct further discovery in order to unearth the true motives behind ...


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