Ohio Supreme Court Scratches GOP-drawn District Map

Ohio Supreme Court

The Ohio Supreme Court decided on Friday against Republican-drawn congressional district plan boundaries that would have guaranteed the GOP a disproportionate lead over the next ten years, The Hill reports.

In a 4-3 judgment, the majority determined that the boundary lines breached a 2018 voter-approved law that gave the ability to create political boundary lines to a commission with the goal of reducing gerrymandering.

The ruling comes only two days after the Ohio Supreme Court overturned legislative district borders on the same grounds that they benefited one party unfairly.

The new maps, which were designed by the state legislature after the redistricting panel reached a stalemate in November, were one of the most vigorous efforts so far this year to remake a state in favor of one party.

Under the legislature’s model, at least 12 of Ohio’s 16 congressional districts would have supported Republicans, while Democratic voters would have been concentrated in only three districts; the remaining district would have skewed narrowly toward Republicans.

Democrats and good governance organizations claimed that the map’s overwhelmingly pro-Republican bias violated Ohio’s constitution, which was changed four years earlier by voters. The amendment makes it illegal for the Ohio General Assembly to enact “a plan that excessively benefits or disfavors a political party or its incumbents.”

The four-justice majority agreed with Donnelly.

Republicans possess a plurality of the court’s seven members, but Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican who was initially appointed to the bench over 20 years ago, joined Donnelly and the two other Democrats in the ruling. O’Connor also cast the deciding decision in a recent judgment that overturned legislative district borders.

The court’s decision will force the legislature to scramble to draw new congressional district borders that will pass muster with the court within 30 days.

If the legislature fails to agree on final district boundaries, the redistricting commission, which is made up of Gov. Mike DeWine, Auditor Keith Faber, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, and four legislators, will have 30 days to draw their own maps.

The jury’s ruling adds to the pressure to finish the lines in time for this year’s congressional midterm elections, which begin on March 4.

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