Ohio’s new congressional map overturned

The Republican chief justice, the chief justice, joined the three Democratic justices in the majority opinion, while the other three court judges objected.

State lawmakers will now have 30 days to draw up a new congressional district plan after a court ordered the legislature to draw a new map “not dictated by partisan considerations,” or it falls to the Ohio redistricting commission to draft a new plan within 30 days.

“When the dealer stacks the deck up front, usually the house wins,” Judge Michael Donnelly wrote to the majority. Perhaps that explains how a party that generally garners no more than 55 percent of the popular vote statewide is in a position to reliably win anywhere from 75 percent to 80 percent of the seats in an Ohio congressional delegation. By any rational measure, this skewed result just doesn’t make sense.”

The court also found that the map “unnecessarily divides” three counties—Hamilton, Cuyahoga, and Summit Counties—in a manner prohibited by the state constitution.

Republicans are in a good position to win a House majority, as the party that got out of power usually does well in the midterm elections, but Friday’s ruling represented a setback for Republicans in Ohio.

Prosecutors and other opponents of the map celebrated Friday’s ruling.

“Once again, the Ohio Supreme Court has done what the legislature has rejected — it has listened to the will of Ohio voters,” Ohio Democratic Chair Elizabeth Walters said in a statement. “Any map that further consolidates our state in favor of one party over another is unacceptable and we will watch closely to ensure that any new maps reflect the fair representation that Ohioans have overwhelmingly advocated.”

Ohio’s Congress was allocated 15 seats after the 2020 US Census—one seat less than it was in 2011. Under the rejected maps, Republicans had an advantage in 12 or 13 of them.

The redistricting plan was approved by the Republican-controlled General Assembly in November without support from Democratic members, and Republican Governor Mike DeWine signed the bill later that month.

The map was soon challenged in court, with two lawsuits filed by Ohio voters and voting groups that claimed the map was “unconstitutional partisan rigging” and did not follow the state constitution’s process for adopting congressional redistricting plans, which were fixed after a vote Ohio voters. Overwhelming approval in 2018.

On Wednesday, the Ohio Supreme Court also rejected the state’s new map for state assembly and Senate districts and ordered the state’s redistricting committee to submit a new plan within 10 days.

This story has been updated.

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