A showdown is in the offing as the fight over Ohio’s state Senate and House district maps continues. To date, the Ohio Redistricting Commission’s maps have been rejected four times by the Ohio Supreme Court – all by 4 to 3 decisions with Chief Justice Maureen O’Conner siding with the three Democratic justices – due to being unconstitutional. The court has now set the next deadline for new maps to be submitted by Friday, May 6, 2022.
However. the three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Eastern Division has stated they will give the Ohio Redistricting Commission until Saturday, May 28, 2022, to submit constitutional maps. If a remedy is not reached by the commission by May 28th, then the federal court will implement an unconstitutional set of maps – the third set passed by the Republican members of the commission. Chief Judge Algenon Marbley – appointed by President Bill Clinton – wrote his own decision stating that something needed to be done, but argued against the remedy of the majority judges – Judge Amul Thapar and Judge Benjamin Beaton both appointed by Trump – of using unconstitutional maps.
The three federal judges did agree that the confusion over the elections now falls into the area of voters rights which the U.S. Supreme Court has said can be remedied via the adoption of a map by a federal court. “But they must do so only as a last resort, after giving states every opportunity to carry out elections consistent with state law,” the judges wrote. The options provided to the court included the third set of maps which had been rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court, the independent mapmakers maps and the original redistricted maps from 2010. Judges Thapar and Beaton stated the third map “has one significant advantage over the others – a shorter timeline between selection and election.” In addition, the judges stated federal court intervention “can restore a lawful and orderly election.” “If the state remains unable to implement its own valid map that satisfies federal law, then we must implement Map 3 to safeguard the rights of Ohio’s voters,” the ruling stated.
Chief Judge Marbley in his separate decision wrote: “The commission’s third map – which the majority adopts as its choice relief – is irredeemably flawed,” and added he would have chosen the maps of the independent mapmakers. Marbley continued to say Ohioans “have every right to be alarmed” with the way the redistricting process has proceeded. Voters “voted overwhelmingly to end the hyper-partisan redistricting process that yielded the 2010 maps, but the practical effect of the majority opinion is to set aside their command of fair representation,” Marbley wrote.
All three federal judges said they will order a special election on Tuesday, August 2, 2022, using Map 3 if the state doesn’t come up with a plan by May 28th for the state Senate and House races. This means Ohio will have two primaries at the cost of $25 million to Ohio taxpayers using unconstitutional GOP-gerrymandered maps that the Ohio Supreme Court has already rejected. Ohioans voted twice overwhelmingly for fair districts and fair maps. With the federal court saying they will order the use of unconstitutional maps, there is NO incentive for the Republican majority on the Ohio Redistricting Commission to do their jobs. Ohioans deserve better.