COLUMBUS, Ohio — Today, the ACLU of Ohio, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Covington & Burling LLP filed a motion asking the federal court in Michael Gonidakis v Ohio Redistricting Commission to modify its order setting May 28 as the “drop-dead” date to order a new map for the Ohio legislative primary. The voting rights groups request that the Court stay its hand until June 6, so that the results of the Ohio Supreme Court’s May 25 order can be considered before the federal court intervenes in Ohio’s legislative redistricting process by imposing an already rejected map onto voters for the 2022 election cycle.
On May 25, the Ohio Supreme Court struck down the Redistricting Commission has gerrymandered General Assembly maps for the fifth time and ordered that the Commission convene and adopt an entirely new plan by June 3. The Court expressly retained jurisdiction over the case.
In an April 20 order, in a 2-1 decision, the federal three-judge panel had set a deadline of May 28 for the Redistricting Commission to offer a constitutional plan. The decision stated that, otherwise, a map that had been previously rejected as unconstitutional would be used in the 2022 primary and general elections.
The motion, filed on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Ohio and the A. Philip Randolph Institute notes, “The Court’s belief that the majority Commissioners would maintain even a basic degree of fidelity to their roles as public servants, though surely an understandable expectation of elected officials, has proven to be sadly mistaken.”
“There is no question that the Ohio Supreme Court is still actively adjudicating Ohio’s legislative redistricting process. We ask the federal court to stay its hand and allow a short period for the Ohio state process to play out as voters intended it to. Otherwise, the majority members of the Redistricting Commission will be rewarded for their continuing delays and repeated refusal to follow the law. They will have scored the implementation of a map that has already been thrown out – TWICE - as an unconstitutional gerrymander., These four individuals will have successfully forced their will upon the voters of this state,” noted Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio.
“We would hope that the federal three-judge court will respect today’s order and timeline from the Ohio Supreme Court, which is the venue that the people of Ohio chose to settle this incredibly important issue when they placed redistricting reforms in the Ohio Constitution in 2015,” said Jen Miller, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio.
Read the motion for stay.