WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, a lawsuit was filed in the Ohio Supreme Court against the state’s revised congressional map, the second map enacted during this round of redistricting. The revised map was enacted on March 2 after the first congressional map was struck down on Jan. 14 by the Supreme Court of Ohio for being a partisan gerrymander in violation of the Ohio Constitution. The revised map, the focus of this new lawsuit, was passed on a party-line vote by members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission after the Legislature failed to draw a new map by the court-ordered deadline. The petitioners in one of the lawsuits challenging the first map, Adams v. DeWine, filed this lawsuit today after the state Supreme Court ruled last Friday that it could not review the second map under the original lawsuits. In its order, the court stated that this finding did not “preclude the filing of a new original action challenging the validity of the” second map, which means that filing a new lawsuit against the revised map is the sole avenue to challenging the validity of the second map in state court.
In the case filed today, the petitioners argue that the revised map “bears a striking resemblance” to the first map struck down by the state Supreme Court in January, suggesting that the Republicans who drew the map ignored the court’s order to draw new districts that do not “unduly favor” one political party. The petitioners allege that the revised map is still an extreme partisan outlier that favors Republicans and ignores an amendment banning partisan gerrymandering in congressional redistricting that was passed in 2018. The petitioners point to evidence that the revised map is expected to hand Democrats a maximum of four out of 15 congressional districts, and only if they are able to win highly competitive races, despite the fact that Democrats receive 46% of the vote share statewide. The petitioners argue that the Republicans who controlled the map-drawing process achieved this partisan lean by delaying the redrawing process after the first map was struck down to exclude Democratic input. They also suggest that the Republicans drew their desired map by “needlessly splitting communities and subordinating traditional redistricting principles, particularly in metropolitan areas, which tend to favor Democrats.” The lawsuit asks the state Supreme Court to pause all election deadlines for the state’s May 3 primary, postpone the primary election and order the adoption of a new congressional map, either one chosen by the court or one drawn by the General Assembly. The state’s legislative districts similarly hang in limbo after the state Supreme Court ordered a fourth round of revisions.