The Ohio Supreme Court rejected a Republican-authored congressional mapping this week. It claimed that it was in violation of anti-gerrymandering laws found in the state constitution.
The court gave Ohio lawmakers 30 days to redesign the map for the 2024 elections.
If they cannot reach a consensus, the Ohio Redistricting Commission will have 30 days to adopt the congressional map.
In a four-three decision, the court found that the map is slightly favorable for Democrats than the one it rejected earlier in the year but “unduly favors the Republican party.”
Chief justice Maureen O’Connor was a Republican. Democratic party Justices Michael P. Donnelly and Melody Stewart were also present. The majority opinion was composed of the following:
Republican justices Sharon L. Kennedy and Patrick F. Fischer dissented.
Six other occasions this year, including five on the state legislative maps, the same mix of justices reached a similar conclusion.
Primaries were held in May with the district maps rejected. This map will now be used for the November general elections.
The majority agreed with plaintiff experts who said Republicans created the map to enhance their chances of winning general elections and again split the Akron, Cincinnati, and Cleveland regions in a way that would reduce Democrats’ chances of winning a fair share of Ohio’s 15 congressional districts.
An example is that Hamilton County which also includes Cincinnati can be split into two districts, one heavily Republican and one slightly Democratic.
The map shows Democratic voters in a handful of densely Democratic-leaning areas, increasing Republican voter share.
Districts that were previously strongly Democratic-leaning have now become competitive or Republican-leaning,” stated the majority of opinion.
Justice DeWine (whose father Mike DeWine is Ohio governor and sits on the redistricting committee) joined Kennedy to give a disapproving opinion.
DeWine, Kennedy and others agreed that Republicans were wrong to emphasize proportionality. Instead of focusing on creating competitive congressional districts, they chose to concentrate on building seats. This is meant to allow each party to gain a number of seats equal to the state’s share.
As of Oct. 21, 2021, Ohio has 7,982,501 registered voters–947,027 Democrats and 836,080 Republicans.
The majority of registered Republicans in Ohio live outside the three largest Ohio counties, which are Hamilton (Cincinnati), Franklin(Columbus), Cuyahoga [Cleveland], Montgomery (Dayton), Cuyahoga (“Cleveland”) and Lucas (Toledo).
Proportionality language is present in Ohio’s state legislative redrawing guidelines. However, it’s not found in the state’s congressional redrawing rules.
” The majority has a set number of Democrat seats in their mind. Any plan which does not achieve that number will result in it being invalidated and declared unconstitutional.” Kennedy and DeWine stated.
Kennedy will be running against Brunner for chief justice in November.
Fisher, DeWine, and Kennedy said that, since the maps won’t take effect until the 2024 elections, more time should have been invested before coming to a decision.
” The failure of this court to hold even one hearing regarding these cases raises doubts among the public about its lack of transparency. One might wonder why such worries haven’t been raised in the media,” Fisher stated in his dissent.
The state supreme court in January ruled that the first set congressional maps were unconstitutional. This gave the General Assembly the task of resolving this issue. When the General Assembly did not act within the required 30-day time frame, the process was moved to Ohio’s Redistricting Commission.
The Republicans who make up the commission include DeWine and Secretary of State Frank LaRose. State Auditor Keith Faber is the Speaker, while Bob Cupp is the House Representative. Senate President Matt Huffman makes up the rest.
House minority leader Allison Russo, and state senator Vernon Sykes are the Democrats.
On March 1, The second set of maps was approved by the Commission on a 5-2 vote.
Lawsuits have been filed by the Ohio Chapters of the ACLU, the League of Women Voters and their local affiliate of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. This week, the court ruled in favor of the legal actions.
” “The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that an illegal congressional map was created to favor Republicans and gives Ohioans an unfair advantage.” Abha Khanna (a lawyer representing the Democratic redistricting organization) said in a statement. “Ohioans have voted and deserve fair districts .”
,” Abha Khanna, a lawyer for the Democratic redistricting group said in a statement.
The state rep. Jeff Crossman expressed his support for the filing a criminal case against the Redistricting Commission.
Crossman won the Democratic primary to be the next attorney general. He is challenging incumbent Republican Dave Yost. In May, he filed a criminal complaint against the city. Two counts are filed against Republican members of the commission for dereliction and interference with civil rights.
On paper, the map favors Republicans to prevail in 10 of Ohio’s 15 congressional districts at a time when the Republicans are striving to regain control of the U.S. House.
According to Inside Elections’ July 1 race rating, seven Republicans in the House would be elected if they were held nationwide on that date. To regain the majority, they only require a net gain in four seats.
Ohio currently has 12 Republicans and four Democrats in Congress. The state is losing a seat following the 2020 U.S. Census results.
With the map that will be used for the November general elections, one seat was flipped from Republican to Democratic.
Ohio’s 1st Congressional District, which includes part of Cincinnati, has been represented by Republican Steve Chabot since January 3, 2011.
His fight against Democratic challenger Greg Landsman has been rated as “toss up” by Inside Elections and Sabato’s Crystal Ball.
Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who is in her 40th year as a congresswoman, appears vulnerable in the revamped 9th Congressional District.
She was first elected to the U.S. House in 1982 when President Ronald Reagan was midway through his first term.
For a decade leading to the current election cycle, the 9th District covered 140 miles of Lake Erie’s coastline, including the Democratic strongholds of Toledo in northwest Ohio and Cleveland in the state’s northeast corner. The “snake-on the lake” was its nickname.
Kaptur breezed to election victories, consistently securing more than 60 percent of the vote.
Now, Ohio’s 9th District also includes the rural northwest corner of Ohio, which tends to be conservative. Cleveland does not now belong to the 9th District. J.R. Majewski won the Republican primary. He is endorsed former President Donald Trump. The district is likely to be won by Republicans, according to political forecasters.
In Ohio’s new 13th Congressional District, which includes Democrat-leaning Akron but also Republican-friendly areas, Democratic State Rep. Emilia Sykes faces Trump-endorsed former Miss Ohio Madison Gesiotto Gilbert in November.
Rep. Tim Ryan won the Democratic U.S. Senate Primary and is currently running against Republican J.D. Vance is currently the representative of the district that once contained Youngstown, a Democratic stronghold.
Sykes is the father of state Senator Vernon Sykes. He makes up the seven member commission that works on the new congressional maps.
The Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball and Sabato’s Crystal Ball both call this race a toss-up while Inside Elections ranks it as Tilt Republican.
Some districts, like Republican stalwart congressmen Jim Jordan (4th district) and Warren Davidson (8th district), are projected to win in landslides, according to data related to the new maps.
Democratic Rep. Shontel Brown is in the +59.7 Democratic 11th District and Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty represents the +37.8 Democratic 3rd District.
Chief Justice O’Connor is a Republican who voted for Democrats in all seven cases involving congressional maps and state legislatures. She cannot run again because she has reached her age limit. Kennedy and Brunner vie to succeed her.
Ohio Supreme Court Elections in November may determine future redistricting cases.
Ohioans are expected to head to the polls Aug. 2, to cast their vote in state House or Senate primaries. Two federal judges approved maps, which overruled the rejections of Ohio’s Supreme Court.
The second primary, which is expected to see a low turnout, will cost taxpayers around $20 million, according to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.
The state legislative maps are applicable to the Aug. 2, primary, and Nov. 8, general elections. The Ohio Redistricting Commission must author new maps for 2024.
Jeff Louderback, a National Reporter for The Epoch Times, is based out of Ohio. He covers the U.S. Senate and U.S. House as well as the gubernatorial races within Ohio and other surrounding states.