COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Supreme Court of Ohio issued a 4-3 ruling in three lawsuits challenging Ohio's maps for state House and Senate districts, ordering the Republican-controlled Redistricting Commission to draw a new map that complies with the Ohio Constitution.
The Ohio Redistricting Commission has 10 days to submit a remedial map and the Ohio Supreme Court retains jurisdiction for the purpose of reviewing the new plan.
Oral arguments occurred on December 8, 2021. The filing deadline for candidates seeking state legislative seats is February 2, 2022, and the primary is set for May 3, 2022.
"The Ohio Supreme Court's decision is huge. It not only orders the immediate drawing of a new, constitutional map, but it also validates that Ohio's voter-enacted constitutional prohibition that partisan gerrymandering is not merely ‘aspirational' — it has real teeth. This bodes well for the 2022 election cycle — and beyond," said Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio. "This ruling sends a clear message to lawmakers in Ohio: they may not put politics over people."
"We thank the high court for standing with voters and defending our democracy by ordering the drawing of new Ohio Senate and Ohio House districts. Now we call on the Ohio Redistricting Commission to do what voters and the Ohio Supreme court expect: draw maps that keep communities together and represent the right of every Ohio voter to have fair districts," added Jen Miller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio.
"This ruling is a huge victory for voting rights. This decision sends a clear message that district maps are not to be manipulated to the detriment of voters or for political gain," said Julie Ebenstein, senior staff attorney with the ACLU's Voting Rights Project.
"This ruling completely validates the mandate put forth by Ohio voters, who have demanded an end to political gerrymandering time and time again. Gerrymandering disproportionately affects minority voters and this decision ensures that people – especially people of color – can have a voice in their government," added Andre Washington, president of the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute.
"We are very grateful for the court's holding that petitioners have shown 'beyond a reasonable doubt' that the commission did not even ‘attempt to draw a district plan that meets the standard articulated in Article XI' of the Ohio Constitution," said Robert Fram of Covington & Burling.
Read the full opinion below.