Ohio Supreme Court rejects third set of state legislature maps, primary election in disarray

Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 10:56 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVG) - The Ohio Supreme Court rejected a third set of General Assembly maps late Wednesday night, sending map-makers on the Redistricting Commission back to the drawing board once again and putting the May 3 primary election in jeopardy.

The court, in a 4-3 decision, ordered the commission to approve a new set of maps by March 28.

The majority of justices said the maps unfairly favored Republicans and disfavored Democrats.

The commission adopted the latest plan in a 4-3 vote last month. The GOP map-makers said the plan gave their party the advantage in 54% of districts, but many of the Democratic-leaning districts are closer to toss-ups, giving Republicans an advantage, the justices wrote.

In a majority opinion, the justices suggested that the commission brings on an “independent map drawer” for the fourth round of maps, “who answers to all commission members, not only to the Republican legislative leaders—to draft a plan through a transparent process,” they wrote.

“Driving litigation to the brink of making it impossible to hold an election is not a substitute for nor a permissible threat against doing what is necessary to draft a district plan that complies with Article XI of the Ohio Constitution,” Justice Brunner wrote in the majority opinion.

In the dissenting opinion, Justices Kennedy and DeWine argued the court’s majority for rejecting the statehouse maps weren’t grounded in the constitution, claiming they’ve “commandeered the redistricting process.”

“An imminent election is thrown into disarray and Ohio nears a constitutional crisis, but the majority offers the commission only standardless judging and a vague admonition to try again,” the dissenting opinion read.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose had ordered counties to move forward preparing ballots using the most recently adopted maps for General Assembly candidates with a deadline looming to send ballots to military members and overseas voters.

Republicans have rejected attempts by Democrats to postpone the May 3 primary election. Republican leaders have said they wouldn’t consider moving the election date unless the Supreme Court overturned their most recent state legislative redistricting plan.

The high court has yet to rule on the constitutionality of a newly-adopted congressional map.

You can read the opinion in full below.

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