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Ohio Supreme Court rejects second GOP-drawn electoral map

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Ohio Supreme Court rejects second GOP-drawn electoral map

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The congressional map drawn by Ohio Republicans was thrown out by the state’s high court on Friday, giving hope to national Democrats who had argued it unfairly delivered several potentially competitive seats in the critical election. this year’s midterms to Republicans.

In the 4-3 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court sent the map back to the Ohio General Assembly, where Republicans hold supermajorities in both houses, and then to the powerful Ohio Redistricting Commission. . The two bodies have a combined 60 days to draw new lines consistent with a 2018 constitutional amendment against gerrymandering.

The commission was reconstituting itself so it could redraw the GOP-drawn legislative maps that the court also dismissed this week as gerrymandered. This decision gave the panel 10 days to comply.

As Feb. 2 and March 4 loom as the filing dates for legislative and congressional candidates, respectively, the rulings have raised questions about whether the state’s May 3 primary may need to be extended.

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Paduchik called the situation a waste, criticizing the Ohio Supreme Court for giving the commission less than two weeks to come up with new legislative maps.

“That’s a lot to dump on a commission with a very short period of time,” he said during a forum at the City Club in Cleveland on Friday. “It’s hard to say what’s going to happen.”


The justices chastised Republicans in both rulings for flouting voters’ wishes and the Constitution and ordered them to act hastily.

Writing for the majority, Justice Michael Donnelly wrote: “(T)he evidence in these cases clearly shows that the General Assembly ignored the clarion call sent by the voters of Ohio to stop political gerrymandering.”

Donnelly and the two other court Democrats were joined by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a moderate Republican who is expected to leave the court due to age restrictions at the end of the year.

The three other Republicans on the court — including Judge Pat DeWine, son of Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, a named plaintiff in the cases — dissented.

They said it was unclear how to determine that a card “unduly favors” one party over another.

“When the majority says the plan unduly favors the Republican Party, that means the plan unduly favors the Republican Party over the results that would be achieved if we followed a system of proportional representation,” the dissent said.

They explained that the United States has never adopted a system that requires congressional seats to be distributed proportionally to match the popular vote, nor does the Ohio Constitution require it.

In his separate opinion, O’Connor said voting rights and Democratic groups that challenge the maps have never argued that strict proportionality is required.

“The dissenting opinion’s dismissive characterization of all measures used by petitioners’ experts as merely ‘proportional representation’ measures is a sleight of hand,” she wrote. “No magician’s trick can hide what the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates: the card has such a statistically partisan advantage that it unduly favors the Republican Party.”


Friday’s decision affects separate lawsuits filed by the legal arm of the National Democratic Redistricting Commission, as well as the Ohio offices of the League of Women Voters and the A. Philip Randolph Institute. The groups calculated that 12 or 13 of the map’s 15 districts favored Republicans, despite the GOP only taking about 54% of the vote in statewide races over the past decade. .

Republicans had defended the card – which was pushed through the approval process in a flurry – as fair, constitutional and “highly competitive”.

Suffrage advocates and Democrats hailed the court’s decision, their second victory this week.

Ohio and other states had to redraw their congressional maps to reflect the results of the 2020 census, under which Ohio lost one of its current 16 districts due to population lag.

Ohio Supreme Court rejects second GOP-drawn electoral map

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