WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Supreme Court of Ohio struck down the state’s new General Assembly maps for being partisan gerrymanders that violate the Ohio Constitution. The 4-3 decision stems from three cases filed against the maps soon after they were passed last September. The court held that the Ohio Redistricting Commission did not comply with constitutional provisions outlining the redistricting process and the resulting state House and Senate maps did not accurately reflect Ohio voters. The court ordered the commission to adopt new plans that comply with the state constitution within 10 days, which the court will then review.
The plaintiffs in the three cases argued that the new General Assembly maps violate Section 6 of Article XI, which requires that maps are not drawn to favor one political party and that the statewide proportion of districts closely corresponds to the statewide preferences of Ohio voters over the last decade. The court agreed with the plaintiffs and held that “the expert evidence supports the conclusion that the adopted plan’s partisan skew cannot be explained solely by nondiscriminatory factors” and more proportional maps reflective of statewide voter preferences should have been drawn. The court rejected the Republican defendants’ argument that Section 6 is only “aspirational,” outlining the 2021 redistricting process and finding that the Republicans did not even attempt to comply with the provisions of Section 6 — part of a constitutional amendment passed in 2015 by 71% of Ohio voters specifically to ban partisan gerrymandering. The court similarly rejected the Republican defendants’ arguments that the court does not have jurisdiction to hear the cases or order the drawing of new maps because Article XI does not allow legal challenges for “a stand-alone violation of Section 6.”