Once again – and for the fourth time, the Ohio Supreme Court has rejected the state House and Senate maps drawn by the Ohio Republicans. The fourth version were simply tweaks by the GOP mapmakers of maps previously rejected by the court. Thus, mapmakers are being sent back to the drawing board. The court has set a new deadline for new maps to be finished by 9:00am on Friday, May 6, 2022. And once again, the court’s decision was 4-3 with Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor siding with the three Democratic justices.
The court’s majority suggested that the commission start the process using the maps drawn by two hired mapmakers – Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political science professor, and Douglas Johnson, president of the National Demographics Corp. The majority opinion stated that even though the maps were incomplete, they were ‘on track to being constitutionally compliant.’ The mapmakers’ plan consisted of fewer tossup districts for both Democrats and Republicans. In addition, the court wants the maps to match Ohioans’ voting preferences of 54% for Republicans and 46% for Democratic candidates. The three Republican justices said the court has thrown Ohio’s elections into chaos – not the GOP commission members.
“Although the commission appeared to be engaging in a more collaborative process in drafting a legislative map, the final day leading up to the adoption of the third revised plan revealed anything but that,” the majority opinion stated.
If the Ohio Redistricting Commission does not come up with a constitutional map, then three federal judges may be burdened with finding a solution. The three federal judges – consisting of U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit Judge Amul Thapar, Judge Benjamin Beaton of the Western District of Kentucky and Judge Algenon Marbley of the Southern District of Ohio – decided to let Ohio officials work out the redistricting even though the GOP-controlled Legislature did not move the May 3rd Primary nor has shown any interest in drawing fair maps according to Ohio’s Constitution.
Upon the request of several voting rights groups that the court hold a hearing to consider contempt of court charges against the Ohio Redistricting Commission, the court separately denied the request. No reason was provided. Justice Patrick DeWine, son of Governor Mike DeWine and a Republican member of the commission – did not participate in the decision about the contempt charges.