WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Supreme Court of Ohio struck down the state’s revised General Assembly maps. These maps were submitted to the court after it blocked the state’s original legislative districts on Jan. 12. In blocking the first round of legislative maps, a 4-3 majority of 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. Specifically, the majority found that the original maps violated a provision of the Ohio Constitution 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 ordered the commission to adopt new plans that comply with the state constitution, which the commission passed on Jan. 22.
The court invited the petitioners who sued over the original plans to file objections to the revised plans. The three sets of petitioners argued that the revised plans unduly favored Republicans and failed to meet proportionality standards, again in violation of the Ohio Constitution. Today, the same four justices who struck down the original map blocked the revised plan, agreeing with the petitioners that the revised plan still violates the state constitution. First, the majority pointed out that the commissioners used the original, illegal map as their starting point and “then merely adjusted certain districts just enough so that they could nominally be reclassified as ‘Democratic-leaning.’” The majority concluded that the Republicans’ choice to “start with that plan and change it as little as possible is tantamount to an intent to preserve as much partisan favoritism as could be salvaged from the invalidated plan.” Second, the majority held that the revised plans do not accurately reflect the statewide preferences of Ohio voters, stating the commissioners’ definition of “Democratic-leaning” — “a district with a Democratic vote share between 50 and 51 percent” — is “absurd on its face.” The commission must convene again to adopt maps that align with the Ohio Constitution and submit them to the Ohio secretary of state by Feb. 17 and to the court by Feb. 18. The court will again review the plans to ensure they comply with state law.