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Sykes, Russo Call for Redistricting Commission colleagues to be held in contempt

Written on May 13, 2022

Provided by Hannah News Service

Democrats on the Ohio Redistricting Commission Thursday joined the plaintiffs in three redistricting lawsuits in calling for their Republican colleagues on the commission to be held in contempt for not adopting a new constitutional General Assembly districting plan per the Court’s orders. 

In calling for the show cause order, House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) and Sen. Vern Sykes (D-Akron) said they do so with “sadness” but see no other reasonable choice to get the commission to comply. 

Thursday was the deadline set by the Court for commission members to respond to a motion filed by plaintiffs earlier in the week asking the Court to order members to show cause as to why they should not be held in contempt after the commission’s recent adoption of the third rejected plan by the Court in anticipation of a federal court order to use that plan for the upcoming General Assembly primary election expected to be held on Tuesday, Aug. 2. (See The Hannah Report, 5/5/22, 5/10/22.) 

In their filing, Russo and Sykes said they had not asked the Court to hold their colleagues in contempt before this week. 

Referencing a likely federal court order to use the third map if the commission does not come up with a new plan by Saturday, May 28, the Democrats said a federal court order does not absolve the commission of its obligation to adopt a constitutional map for the decade in compliance with the Ohio Supreme Court’s order. They also argued that the commission lacks authority to adopt a map limited to the 2022 election. 

The Republican members made arguments similar to those they made earlier this week in their response to plaintiffs' objections to the Court to the adoption of the third map. 

Secretary of State Frank LaRose said the purpose for passing the third map was to comply with directives of two courts exercising jurisdiction over the same subject and is consistent with the federal court pronouncement on Gonidakis v. Larose, the federal court case filed by Republican activists seeking to have one of the previous maps ordered used by the court. 

LaRose said the Ohio Supreme Court continues to exercise jurisdiction for plans for use beyond the 2022 election cycle, adding that the limited use of the third map for this election only is an acknowledgement that another submission of maps will be ultimately made to the Court. 

Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Canal Winchester) and Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon), who were swapped onto the commission for House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) and Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said in their filing that the plaintiffs in the cases “mistake an electoral crisis as contempt.” They said the commission has tried to hit a moving target set by the Court, and that the “uncontroverted evidence” shows that only one plan can be used in Ohio or there will be no election. They said the commission’s action was not an act of defiance, but “of necessity.”