WASHINGTON, D.C. — This afternoon, the Supreme Court of Ohio struck down the state’s fourth set of General Assembly maps for violating the Ohio Constitution. The maps — called the “third revised plan” by the court — were adopted after the original plan, first revised plan and second revised plan were all struck down for being partisan gerrymanders that favor Republicans. In March, the Ohio Redistricting Commission passed the third revised maps after Republican commissioners rejected a proposal drawn by outside experts and instead merely tweaked the second revised plan. The court ordered the Ohio Redistricting Commission to pass new maps by May 6, after which the court will again review their constitutionality.
In its opinion, the majority objected to both the process that led to the overturned maps and the maps themselves. While acknowledging that the Commission had begun to heed suggestions the court made in its previous decisions, the map-drawing process “devolved into the same one-sided partisan…process” that led the court to “invalidate the previous three plans.” Because the Commission rejected the work of independent map drawers in favor of maps prepared by Republican staff, the Commission’s fourth try at drawing maps had “beyond a reasonable doubt an intent to favor the Republican Party.”
As for the maps themselves, the majority concluded the plan unduly favors Republicans in violation of the Ohio Constitution. The third revised plan favors Republicans to the same degree as the second revised plan: a 50/50 split in the statewide vote would hand Democrats about 44% of state House seats while giving Republicans about 53%. The majority also took issue with the allocation of competitive districts between the parties, noting that “the third revised plan contains zero districts with a Republican vote share between 50 and 52 percent,” but 23 districts with a Democratic vote share between 50 and 52 percent. As a result, the third revised plan violates the Ohio Constitution for the same reasons the second revised plan did.