Supreme Court of Ohio Strikes Down Congressional Map
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Supreme Court of Ohio struck down the state’s new congressional map for being a partisan gerrymander that violates the Ohio Constitution. In a 4-3 decision, the majority of the court held that the enacted congressional map — which is predicted to hand Republicans 75 to 85% of the congressional delegation in a nearly divided state — “excessively and unwarrantedly favors the Republican Party and disfavors the Democratic Party.” The court held that the entire map violates the Ohio Constitution and ordered the Legislature to redraw districts within 30 days. This decision comes two days after the same makeup of justices struck down the legislative districts for similarly being partisan gerrymanders.
Two lawsuits were filed soon after Ohio’s new congressional map was signed into law last November. Both argued that the new map “unduly favors” one political party and unnecessarily splits counties to achieve this goal, thereby violating an amendment banning partisan gerrymandering that was passed by a majority of Ohio voters in 2018. Despite this clear directive from Ohio voters, the court found that the Republicans who controlled the map-drawing process created a plan “that is infused with undue partisan bias and that is incomprehensibly more extremely biased than the 2011 plan that it replaced.” They went on to say, “This is not what Ohio voters wanted or expected when they approved” the amendment. The majority found that neither redistricting criteria or the state’s political geography explained the high partisan lean of the enacted map, specifically holding that three counties were “unduly” split in order to “crack” and “pack” Democratic voters and weaken their voting power. The court also called out the defendants’ threat to take the issue to federal court if the court ordered the redrawing of congressional districts to be proportional to the statewide share of voters, which they suggested would be “reverse gerrymandering.” The majority reiterated that the plaintiffs did not argue for a proportional requirement, as is required for legislative districts, but only that the map does not “unduly favor” one political party over the other.