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New York redistricting trial

The New York Times reports,

Senate District 34 in the Bronx has a notoriously odd shape, likened to that of a squashed doughnut. But is its figure unconstitutional, the result of gerrymandering designed to limit the voting strength of blacks and Hispanics?

A three-judge panel in Federal District Court in Manhattan has begun weighing this and other questions, including whether district lines that divide a large concentration of ethnic minorities on Long Island into four smaller groups violate the federal Voting Rights Act.

The trial is a result of a lawsuit challenging, on the grounds of racial discrimination, the redrawing of districts in 2002 after the 2000 census. The plaintiffs contend that the districts are not fairly drawn. Rather, "there is unmistakable method to the madness," they have said in court papers. The State Legislature must redraw State Senate and Assembly district lines every 10 years to take the census into account.