Late tonight, the Ohio Supreme Court struck down the third set of state House and Senate maps late Wednesday, effectively ending any hope of a May 3rd primary with both legislative and statewide races. In addition, the court made a few suggestions on how the Ohio Redistricting Commission on how it could be more transparent during the next round of mapmaking and rebuked State Senate President Matt Huffman (R).
The Decision marks the third time the Ohio Supreme Court has rejected legislative maps drawn by the Ohio Redistricting Commission. Once again, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican, was once again the deciding vote in a 4-3 decision – siding with the three Democratic justices.
The Ohio Supreme Court ordered the Ohio Redistricting Commission to draw a new set of state House and Senate maps by Monday, March 28, and to submit the new maps to the court Tuesday, March 29.
In its decision, the court’s majority pointed to a flawed process that led to a flawed product. It also made a suggestion for the next round of mapmaking: draft maps in public, convene frequent meetings and use a different mapmaker since [t]he evidence shows that the map-drawing process for all three districting plans we have reviewed has been controlled by the Republican Party.” “The commission should retain an independent map drawer – who answers to all commission members, not only to the Republican legislative leaders – to draft a plan through a transparent process.” The court’s decision goes on to say: “Resolving this self-created chaos thus depends not on the number of hands on the computer mouse but, rather, on the political will to honor the people’s call to end partisan gerrymandering.”
The majority also wrote: “As a final matter, we note that Senate President Huffman appears to have voted against the Sykes-Russo plan based, at least in part, on a misunderstanding of Section 6(A). Invoking Section 6(A), Senate President Huffman criticized the Sykes-Russo plan because, he said, it would have made it hard, if not impossible, for some Republican incumbents to retain their seats. Making that observation demonstrates, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Senate President Huffman misunderstands the requirements of Article XI and the reasons for their adoption. Currently, the General Assembly is marked by extreme disproportionality, with the Republican Party holding substantial majorities in both the Senate and the House. The district plan that facilitated that disproportionality was the basis for the adoption of Article XI. Senate President Huffman’s concern for protecting incumbents is not grounded in Article XI.” Ouch.
We are now waiting for the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision on the twice-redrawn congressional maps. Stay tuned…