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Supreme Court orders redraw of legislative maps

Written on Jan 14, 2022

Provided by Hannah News Service 

The Ohio Supreme Court Wednesday struck down the new General Assembly maps adopted along party-lines by the Ohio Redistricting Commission and gave the commission 10 days to come up with a new plan. 

The 4-3 decision saw Republican Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor join with the Democrats on the Court in declaring the new Ohio House and Senate maps invalid based on a violation of Article XI, Section 6(A) and 6(B), which state that the commission "shall attempt" to draw maps that correspond with the voting preferences of Ohio voters over the last 10 years. 

The 146-page decision included two concurring opinions and two dissenting opinions that further debated what "shall attempt" means, and whether the Court itself had jurisdiction to decide the constitutionality of a four-year map adopted by a simple majority of the commission.

Further, two justices -- O'Connor and Justice Jennifer Brunner -- suggested Ohio voters may want to take another stab at reforms based on the results of the latest round of redistricting. The majority opinion, authored by Justice Melody Stewart, and Brunner's concurring opinion, also took issue with how the process played out. 

All sides of the three lawsuits challenging the map generally agreed that Democrats over the last 10 years had captured about 46 percent of the vote in statewide races, and Republicans received about 54 percent of the vote. The commission, however, adopted a statement in support of the adopted plans that noted that Republicans had won about 81 percent of the statewide races, and said voter preferences could be construed to support Republicans by a margin between 54 and 81 percent. Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said further at the end of the process that the adopted plan favors Republicans in 62 seats in the House and 23 seats in the Senate. 

Members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission responded to the decision, with the Democrats praising it. 

“The Court’s ruling today confirmed what Democrats have been saying all along: the gerrymandered maps created by the majority are unfair, unrepresentative and unconstitutional. Our hope is that the commission can now get back to work and draw new, 10-year maps that better reflect what voters have demanded: fair districts created through a bipartisan, transparent process. It’s time we give Ohioans the fair maps they deserve," Vern and Emilia Sykes said in a joint statement. 

Spokespersons for Huffman and Cupp said they were reviewing the decision. 

Gov. DeWine said in a statement, “Throughout this process, I expected that Ohio’s legislative maps would be litigated and that the Ohio Supreme Court would make a decision on their constitutionality. I will work with my fellow redistricting commission members on revised maps that are consistent with the Court’s order.” 

The Ohio Supreme Court followed its 4-3 decision earlier this week striking down the recently redrawn legislative district map with another 4-3 decision Friday invalidating the congressional map approved by the Legislature in SB258 (McColley) The opinion found that the map violated the partisan gerrymandering prohibitions contained in the Ohio Constitution.