The advocates who filed a lawsuit that overturned Ohio’s congressional districts have a week to respond to the state of Ohio’s request that the U.S. Supreme Court put on hold a court order to remap the districts by June 14.
On Monday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor decreed that responses to the state’s request are due at 3 p.m. on May 20.
Earlier this month, a three-judge federal panel ruled that the state’s congressional maps were unconstitutionally gerrymandered and ordered drawing of new maps in time for the 2020 election. On Friday, Ohio officials asked the U.S. Supreme Court to delay any remap in Ohio until after the Supreme Court rules on the legality of Maryland and North Carolina congressional maps in pending cases that are expected to clarify the constitutionality of drawing maps that disproportionately favor one party.
The state’s legal filing said that if the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision requires the lower court to re-examine its conclusions in the Ohio case, “then the General Assembly will have been needlessly pressured into either repealing a validly enacted law or wasting resources trying to accommodate a mooted decision. The Court can avoid these consequences by entering a stay.”
The Ohio case stems from a 2011 congressional remap controlled by the state’s Republicans that gave the GOP a 12-to-4 seat advantage in Congress even though the state is considered a “swing” state in presidential elections.
To skew the maps, Republicans packed the maximum number of their opponents’ voters into the fewest possible districts, and put the rest into places they wouldn’t be concentrated enough to affect the general election outcome.. Organizations that challenged the rigged maps in Ohio and other states contend they violate the Constitution by essentially taking away voters’ ability to select candidates in a general election.
On May 3, the judicial panel declared that Ohio’s map “dilutes the votes of Democratic voters by packing and cracking them into districts that are so skewed toward one party that the electoral outcome is predetermined,” and ordered a redraw in time for the 2020 elections.
Attorneys for the state of Ohio and its Republican members of Congress contended that the redistricting was fair, and that generating the new congressional maps by next month “risks sowing chaos and undermining the public interest in an orderly election process.”
“Ohio’s voters, after four elections under the 2011 plan, are acclimated to it, and there is no reason to disrupt the relationships between constituents and congress members until it is clear that such disruption is necessary,” said a legal brief filed on behalf of 10 of the state’s Republican members of Congress.
“The mere existence of competing congressional plans—after four straight election cycles under the 2011 plan—will create confusion, as it will result in election preparations beginning to proceed on dual tracks. And, if the Court finds Respondents’ claims nonjusticiable or otherwise reverses, the State will revert back to the 2011 plan, causing even further confusion.”
The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision in the North Carolina and Maryland cases by late June.
By Sabrina Eaton | cleveland.com
To read entire article and link to filing by Ohio GOP legislators, please visit here.