Ohio Supreme Court sends state redistricting panel back to the drawing board

Last year, members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission used data from the 2020 U.S. Census to redraw the map dividing districts for the state legislature.

But according to the Washington Examiner, Ohio’s state Supreme Court just rejected the new maps with a bombshell decision declaring them unconstitutional. 

In their 4–3 ruling, justices cited the proportionality standard that the state’s constitution sets for electoral maps.

The law states: “The statewide proportion of districts whose voters, based on statewide state and federal partisan general election results during the last ten years, favor each political party shall correspond closely to the statewide preferences of the voters of Ohio.”

“They may not put politics over people”

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican, joined with the court’s three Democratic justices in determining that the new map of state legislative districts is too favorable to the GOP.

Freda Levenson, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, put out a statement welcoming Wednesday’s ruling. “The Ohio Supreme Court’s decision is huge,” Levenson said, according to the Washington Examiner.

“It not only orders the immediate drawing of a new constitutional map, but it also validates that Ohio’s voter-enacted constitutional prohibition that partisan gerrymandering is not merely ‘aspirational’ — it has real teeth,” she insisted.

Levenson went on: “This bodes well for the 2022 election cycle — and beyond. This ruling sends a clear message to lawmakers in Ohio: they may not put politics over people.”

Back to the drawing board

Ohio’s Republican Gov. Mike DeWine released his own statement Wednesday acknowledging the ruling. “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,” DeWine said.

“I will work with my fellow redistricting commission members on revised maps that are consistent with the court’s order,” the governor added.

In addition to DeWine, the Ohio Redistricting Commission’s membership also includes Ohio’s secretary of state and the state’s auditor, as well as individuals who are appointed by high-ranking figures within the state legislature.

The panel will now be tasked with drafting new maps that meet the requirements set by state law, the Examiner reports.

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