Ohio Supreme Court tosses GOP-leaning redistricting map in win against gerrymandering
Columbus, Ohio — The Ohio Supreme Court rejected the state’s new congressional map in a ruling Friday over allegations it unfairly favored Republicans, the first time a court has tossed a state’s redrawn district lines in the current redistricting cycle.
The 4-3 decision found that the map passed last year by Ohio’s Republican-controlled Legislature violated a 2018 constitutional amendment on redistricting. Language barring any plan "that unduly favors or disfavors a political party" means the Legislature has to redraw the maps in advance of a March 4 candidate filing deadline, the court ruled.
"Despite the adoption of (the amendment), the evidence in these cases makes clear beyond all doubt that the General Assembly did not heed the clarion call sent by Ohio voters to stop political gerrymandering," the majority opinion read.
Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a moderate Republican, joined the court’s three Democrats in the majority. The three dissenting Republicans included Justice Pat DeWine, the son of Gov. Mike DeWine, who signed the map into law and was named a plaintiff in the case.
The court gave the state Legislature 30 days to pass a new map.
Under the plan struck down, Republicans would have been favored to win 12 of Ohio’s 15 districts in a state former President Donald Trump carried over Joe Biden 53% to 45% in 2020. The Princeton Gerrymandering Project gave the map an "F," citing its partisan lean.
Common Cause, one of the groups challenging the plan, praised the ruling in a statement Friday.
"Ohio voters have been waiting too long for fair districts. We all deserve to participate in meaningful elections, which is why nearly 75% of Ohio voters approved putting clear rules prohibiting partisan gerrymandering in the Ohio Constitution," said Catherine Turcer, executive director of the group’s Ohio chapter.
"We are glad the Ohio Supreme Court agrees," she added.
A 2019 Supreme Court decision in Rucho v. Common Cause found that federal courts would not consider gerrymandering claims. Numerous experts have said political gerrymandering claims will factor into a coming wave of redistricting litigation in state courts this cycle. Those arguments have not found universal success so far – as seen in the fight over Texas' redistricting maps.
Cover photo: Screenshot/Twitter/OHSupremeCourt