Federal judges decide not to intervene in Ohio redistricting fight - yet

The Ohio Redistricting Commission has to go back to the drawing board to once again create new...
The Ohio Redistricting Commission has to go back to the drawing board to once again create new maps for the state House and Senate.(MGN)
Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 7:25 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVG) - A panel of three federal judges decided Wednesday that they will not intervene in Ohio’s legislative redistricting efforts yet.

They’re giving the state until May 28 to settle legal fights over new state House and Senate maps. If there are no maps passed by the Ohio Redistricting Commission that withstand legal challenges in the Ohio Supreme Court by then, the federal judges will force the state to use the third set of maps approved in February.

The Ohio Supreme Court rejected that third plan as an unconstitutional gerrymander and a subsequent fourth plan that was largely based on the previous set of maps. It gave the Ohio Redistricting Commission until May 6 to approve a fifth plan.

The commission has not yet set a date to meet and start drafting a fifth plan.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose asked the federal court to implement the third set of maps by April 20, which he said was a drop-dead date to approve a plan in order to have a primary election for General Assembly candidates on August 2. That date was selected as the latest the state could hold a second primary and not interfere with the general election.

“Handed a menu of unappetizing options, we defer ordering Map 3 as long as possible—a final pause in hope that Ohio finally approves a map that complies with federal and state law,” the judges wrote in their opinion. They also said that federal courts should only serve as a “last resort, not a first step” in challenging state redistricting efforts.

“We are acutely aware of its flaws,” the judges said referring to the third set of maps. “Yet with deference to the State in mind, we see it as the best of our bad options.”

You can read the full court filing below.

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