Ohio Supreme Court strikes down congressional map currently in use for 2022 election
A split Ohio Supreme Court has struck down the 15-district congressional map that was used for the May primary and will be in place for the November general election.
In a 42-page ruling, the majority said the second attempt at a congressional map passed by Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission in March "unduly favors the Republican Party and disfavors the Democratic Party." The court ordered a new map within 30 days. The first map was rejected in January.
The split among the justices was as it's been throughout the redistricting saga. Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, a Republican, joined the court's three Democrats: Jennifer Brunner, Melody Stewart and Michael Donnelly. The court's three other Republicans — Sharon Kennedy, Pat DeWine and Pat Fischer — dissented.
The decision said the map "creates just three seats with Democratic vote shares over 52 percent (and one of those is at 52.15 percent). By contrast, all the Republican-leaning seats comfortably favor Republican candidates."
The Republican members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission — Gov. Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Auditor Keith Faber, House Speaker Bob Cupp, and Senate President Matt Huffman — approved the map on March 2 by a vote of 5 to 2.
Rob Nichols, spokesperson for LaRose, said, "Obviously, we’ve received the court’s ruling and our legal team is currently reviewing it.”
DeWine's spokesperson also said they are reviewing the court's decision.
Jen Miller, executive director for the League of Women Voters of Ohio, said this ruling sends a message to members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission that it's "It's high time that they respect Ohio voters and create a congressional district plan that truly serves the people of Ohio and not short sighted political interests.”
The Ohio Supreme Court is basing its ruling on new constitutional language approved by voters in 2018 which included more redistricting rules to prevent gerrymandering — when a map is drawn to favor one party over another.
The groups that have challenged the Ohio House and Senate maps also challenged the congressional maps. But because filing deadlines for the case were in late May, this second map would be used for the 2022 election unless a federal court ruled otherwise. That led the League of Women Voters to drop their suit against the map for the 2022 election and push their challenge for the next congressional election in 2024.
The ruling gives the Ohio Legislature 30 days to adopt a new congressional map. If the House and Senate do not adopt a new plan, the Ohio Redistricting Commission will have the following 30 days to draft a map.