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Petitioners want redistricting commissioners to explain why they should not be held in contempt

Ohio Supreme Court
The Ohio Channel
Ohio Supreme Court convenes on December 8, 2021.

Petitioners objecting to the latest round of state legislative district maps have filed motions in court to require members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission to explain why they should not be held in contempt.

The Ohio Supreme Court ordered the commission to adopt a new set of maps by May 6, and suggested the commission use the work already completed by commission-hired mapmakers. Instead, the commission resubmitted a set of maps, known as Map 3, that was already rejected by the court in March.

"The commission's conduct was a power grab with the highest possible stakes: thwarting the expressed will of the people of Ohio about how they wish to be represented and openly defying this Court’s power to say what the law is," attorneys for the Ohio Organizing Collaborative wrote in the court filing.

The commission agreed to resubmit Map 3 by a 4-3 vote. Gov. Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, both Republicans, along with Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon), and Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Violet Twp.) voted for the move.

The Ohio Organizing Collaborative asked the court to require those four members to show cause for why should not be held in contempt by May 13 at 9 a.m.

Attorneys representing the National Redistricting Action Fund, which is an affiliate of a national Democratic group, asked the court to find the commission and "as the court deems appropriate, individual respondents" in contempt unless they adopt a constitutional plan for Ohio General Assembly districts.

On Monday, LaRe and McColley filed a response to petitioners' objecting to the resubmitted Map 3. Attorneys for the lawmakers said the decision to resubmit the already rejected map was in the interest of holding a second primary by August 2.

State legislative races were removed from the May 3 ballot because Ohio did not have constitutional maps in place in time.

Ohio House and Ohio Senate district maps adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission by a vote of 4-3 on February 24, 2022
Ohio Redistricting Commission
Ohio House and Ohio Senate district maps adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission by a vote of 4-3 on February 24, 2022 (Map 3)

LaRe and McColley's court response stated that Map 3 was the only plan that would allow elections officials to hit certain deadlines for an August 2 primary.

"Election administration deadlines are not artificial, but rather a real-world acknowledgement of the incredible amount of time and work it takes to properly administer an election," the filing said.

The response from LaRe and McColley also asked the court to delay requiring any further action by the commission until after the November General Election, "at which time elections will determine which commission members return to the commission."

A federal court deadline is looming as the supreme court reviews the question of contempt and the resubmitted Map 3. If Ohio cannot implement a set of constitutional maps by May 28, federal judges will instate the unconstitutional Map 3.

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