ACLU Comment on U.S. Supreme Court Action in Ohio Partisan Gerrymandering Case

June 30, 2023 3:00 pm

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court today instructed the Ohio Supreme Court to reconsider a previous ruling that required Ohio’s congressional map be redrawn over unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering.

Following its routine practice when cases it decides overlap with cases before it on a petition for certiorari, the U.S. Supreme Court “granted, vacated, and remanded,” asking the state court to consider its decision in light of the high court’s recent ruling in Moore v. Harper, which rejected the “independent state legislature” theory.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Ohio, and Covington & Burling LLP had successfully challenged Ohio’s congressional plan, arguing it unduly favored the Republican Party, in violation of the Ohio Constitution.

Acting on the authority granted under the Ohio Constitution, the state court agreed and invalidated the plan as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. The state court then directed the state Legislature to draw a new compliant map. Instead of doing so, Ohio asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, relying on the fringe legal proposition rejected in Moore v. Harper.

The following reactions are from:

Julie Ebenstein, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project: “The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Moore v. Harper makes clear that state constitutions and state courts have a significant role in checking the acts of state legislatures with respect to redistricting. Given the Ohio Constitution’s explicit prohibition on extreme partisan gerrymandering, there is no question the Ohio Supreme Court’s prior decision was within its authority.”

Freda Levenson, legal director of the ACLU of Ohio: “If the Ohio Supreme Court does faithfully apply Moore, as instructed by SCOTUS, there is no question: it should reaffirm its previous decision. What SCOTUS said in Moore was that legislatures must follow their state constitutions — consistent with what the Ohio Supreme Court already decided.”

Order list: https://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/063023zor_b07d.pdf

This case, Huffman v. Neiman, is part of the ACLU’s Joan and Irwin Jacobs Supreme Court Docket.

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