Following the receipt of population data from the 2020 census, Ohio’s Redistricting Commission began working to draw and adopt a map that will define Ohio’s Congressional districts for the next decade. The establishment of the Commission, the process it follows, and the criteria for drawing the maps are the result of an Ohio constitutional amendment that was adopted in 2018 and effective for the first time this year.
For the two previous decades, Ohio’s Congressional map, as well as its General Assembly maps, were heavily gerrymandered, causing severe, partisan skewing consistently in favor of the Republican Party, which controlled the map-drawing process.
This pattern of Republican gerrymandering continued even under the new rules. After the Redistricting Commission missed all of its deadlines to propose or enact a Congressional District Plan, the General Assembly voted along party lines to adopt a map proposed on November 15, 2021.
Under Article XIX, Section1(C)(3)(a) of the Ohio Constitution, a plan must not “unduly” favor a political party.
On November 20, 2021, Governor DeWine signed S.B. 258 into law, adopting a heavily gerrymandered Congressional district plan for the next four years. On November 30, on behalf of organizational Petitioners League of Women Voters of Ohio and A. Philip Randolph Institute of Ohio, and 8 individual Ohio voters, we filed suit in the Ohio Supreme Court against the Governor DeWine in his official capacity, as well as Ohio House of Representatives Speaker Cupp, Ohio Senate President Huffman, and Ohio Secretary of State LaRose also in their official capacities, for violating the Ohio Constitution with the passage of this map. On December 1, the Court issued an order imposing a highly expedited schedule.
Respondents filed a Motion to Dismiss, Stay the Case, and Stay Discovery on December 2, and Respondents Huffman and Cupp filed an Answer and Affirmative Defenses that same day. Petitioners filed their Response to the Motion to Dismiss and Stay on December 3. We also filed an Amended Complaint and a Motion to Compel Expedited Discovery. Respondents opposed the Motion to Compel on December 6. Later that day, the Motion to Compel was granted as to Secretary of State LaRose in his official capacity as Secretary. But the Court also dismissed from the case all Respondents except for Huffman in his capacity as President of the Senate, Cupp as Speaker of the House, and LaRose as Secretary of State. The Motions to Stay the Case and Stay Discovery were denied.
The parties submitted evidence on December 10. On December 13 we filed Petitioners’ brief, as well as a Motion for Oral Argument. Respondents opposed the Motion for Oral Argument on December 15. The Court granted the argument motion on December 16. Respondents brief was filed on December 17. We filed our Reply on December 20. Oral argument was held virtually on December 28, our side was once again combined with Relators from the other congressional redistricting suit. A recording is available on the Ohio Channel website.
On January 14, 2022, the Court delivered its ruling in our favor, striking the congressional map as unconstitutional under Article XIX, Section 1 of the Ohio Constitution, finding that we had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the map “unduly favor[ed]” the Republican Party and its incumbents. The General Assembly had 30 days to enact a compliant map, but failed to so. The map drawing process went back to the Ohio Redistricting Commission. The Commission reconvened for hearings the week of February 21. We submitted a demonstration map prepared by one of our experts along with written testimony. On March 2, the Commission adopted a new map. On March 7, we filed a Motion to Enforce the Court’s January 14th Order along with supporting expert reports. The Court denied our Motion to Enforce, stating that it did not retain jurisdiction over the Congressional map drawing process, but we were free to challenge the map in a new lawsuit. This case is now closed.