Rather than draw a new map of Congress, Republican state legislative leaders filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, saying the one they approved was constitutional.
Along political partisan lines, the Ohio Redistricting Commission approved a congressional map on March 2 that gives Republicans a significant advantage in right-leaning districts.
A previous map, approved by the Republican-controlled state legislature, was thrown out as unconstitutional Jan. 14 by the Ohio Supreme Court on gerrymandering issues.
The state Supreme Court rejected the second card for the same reasons on July 19.
But by the time of the second court ruling, the May 3 primary date had passed and primary elections for congressional seats had taken place.
Republican leaders appealed, appealing the state court ruling “Fundamentally flawed.
The appeal was filed by House Speaker Bob Cupp and Senate Speaker Matt Huffman, the Lima Republicans who served on the redistricting commission for most of its term, and state Rep. Jeff LaRe, R-Violet, and State Sen. Rob McColley, R-Napoleon, who replaced them and was not involved in the card issue in Congress.
Their joint statement read: “While many believe the majority of the Ohio Supreme Court misinterpreted state law, there is also the broader concern that the court has taken on a role that the federal constitution does not allow it to do. ‘exercise. This is a matter that must be resolved by the highest court in our land. The United States Constitution expressly assigns the responsibility of prescribing “the times, places, and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives”…to the legislature of each state. »
The “times, places and manners” is based on the election clause of the US Constitution and has similarities to the language used by Republicans in North Carolina, who challenged the decision of the Supreme Court of that state on a map under the “Theory of the Legislature of Independent States”.
Opponents argue that the theory rests on a misinterpretation of the US Constitution as it is seen to refer to the state legislative process. The legal theory has been rejected by previous United States Supreme Courts.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear oral arguments Dec. 7 and could have a decision next spring. This would have sweeping implications for many states, including Ohio, allowing the ruling party to draw maps of Congress as members see fit.
Ohio House Minority Leader Allison Russo, D-Upper Arlington and a member of the redistricting commission, called the Republican call overbroad.
“It has been abundantly clear time and time again that the attempted power grab to deprive Ohio of the fundamental freedom to vote fairly is nothing short of illegal,” she says. “Power rests with the people, and this is just another blatant attempt by Republicans to ignore, erode, and nullify the democratic process guaranteed by the constitutions of Ohio and the United States.”
Russo said Huffman was one of “key authors” of the constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved in 2018 by Ohio voters to make changes to the redistricting of Congress. That language also gave the Ohio Supreme Court jurisdiction over the constitutionality of Ohio maps, she said.
The Equal Districts Coalition, a group of more than 30 progressive organizations that have advocated for the redistricting process in Ohio, said, “Ohio’s top Republicans must assume Ohioans have the memory incredibly short. These are the same politicians who chose to give our state Supreme Court exclusive jurisdiction over Ohio’s redistricting process. Now that their own laws prevent them from cementing their gerrymandered districts, Republicans want the laws overturned so they can force illegal maps into place. …
“Everyone but the most radical right-wing extremists agrees that state courts have the final say in the interpretation and application of state constitutional law. The last hope of Ohio’s top Republicans is that the Supreme Court of the United States is now made up of such extremists. In the name of democracy, let’s hope they are wrong.
In two 4-3 decisions to overturn maps of congressional districts — and five 4-3 decisions to reject state legislative maps approved by the redistricting commission — the Ohio Supreme Court said the maps unfairly favored the Republicans.
The court pointed to voting trends in statewide partisan elections over the past decade, which showed 54% of Republicans supported and 46% of Democrats supported, saying the map should reflect that.
The committee-approved Congressional map gives Republicans a 10-3 advantage with two hairy seats that lean slightly toward the Democrats.
Skolnick covers politics for The Vindicator and the Tribune Chronicle, sister papers to Columbiana County newspapers.