Ohio Supreme Court Deals Second Blow to Gerrymandered Legislative Maps
COLUMBUS, Ohio — In a 4-3 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court majority struck down the revised House and Senate maps as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders.
The court ordered the Ohio Redistricting Commission to begin the process for a third time, and to comply with the requirements of the Ohio Constitution, including the requirements that the plan not favor either party and that it closely correspond to the preferences of Ohio voters.
The commission adopted the revised legislative plan on January 22, after its initial set of maps was struck down by the high court on January 12. The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Ohio filed objections to the new plan on January 26, citing partisan bias and multiple violations of Section 6.
The Ohio Redistricting Commission has until February 17 to draw a third remedial map, which must be filed with the court on the morning of February 18. The Ohio Supreme Court again retains jurisdiction for the purpose of reviewing the new plan.
The filing deadline for candidates seeking state legislative seats has already passed, and the primary is set for May 3.
“The public officials entrusted to draw our legislative maps again disregarded their sacred duty to follow our Constitution, and the Ohio Supreme Court again struck the maps. Now, hopefully, in their third attempt to draw these maps, the commission will take seriously the court’s admonition to follow the law. It’s really quite simple: refrain from gerrymandering our state,” said Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio.
“Once again, we commend the Ohio Supreme Court for standing with voters and rejecting partisan gerrymandering. For our representative democracy to work, Ohioans need districts that are fair and responsive to voters, rather than rigged for political interests. We stand ready to work with the Ohio Redistricting Commission to create maps that truly uphold the Ohio Constitution and the rights of every Ohio voter,” said Jen Miller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio.
Per the court order, “Section6(B) requires the commission to attempt to draft a plan in which the statewide proportion of districts whose voters ‘favor’ each party closely corresponds to the statewide voters’ preferences. Here, the quality and degree of favoritism in each party’s allocated districts is grossly disparate.”
“Ohio voters will not accept less than what we fought for at the ballot box in 2015. The Ohio Redistricting Commission now has a third opportunity to draw fair districts. We demand they follow the rules and deliver a map that does not favor one party over the other,” said Andre Washington, president of the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute.
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