COLUMBUS, Ohio — Today, the ACLU of Ohio, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Covington & Burling LLP filed objections to the fourth iteration of state House and Senate districts adopted by four members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission late Monday evening. The Ohio Supreme Court struck down the previous plan on March 16, and ordered the Commission to adopt entirely new General Assembly maps; however, hours before the new plan was due, a majority of Republican Commissioners suddenly scrapped the work of the bipartisan independent mapmakers, and instead adopted a slightly edited version of the map that was already rejected.
The ACLU filed a motion on Tuesday urging the Court to hold a contempt hearing against the four Commissioners for refusing to follow the March 16 court order. The defendants must respond by 9am on Monday. Both the contempt motion and these objections to the fourth plan were filed on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, and several individuals.
The plaintiffs charge that the revised plan violates Article XI of the Ohio Constitution in three material ways:
- The Revised Senate Map violates Section 6(B), because in drawing the map, the Commission deviated further from proportionality than required by any other provision of Article XI;
- The Revised House Map also violates Section 6(B), because it also deviates further from proportionality than required by any other provision of Article XI; and
- The Revised House Map was drawn to primarily favor the Republican Party, violating Section 6(A).
“The audacity of the four Republican Commissioners to scrap the Independent Map in favor of a virtually identical map that was already struck down by this Court is beyond measure. Like it or not, under our state’s law, politicians do not get to choose their voters. We ask the Court to enforce the fairness and proportionality requirements set forth in Section 6 and reject this fourth attempt to gerrymander Ohio’s legislative districts,” noted Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio.
“When Ohio voters approved redistricting reforms in 2015, they gave the Ohio Supreme Court authority to strike down unfair maps, and that's exactly what they must do. This fourth set of maps clearly violates the Ohio Constitution and is contemptuous of court orders. Ohioans deserve a state legislature that is responsive to their needs, but that will not happen unless the high court forces the Redistricting Commission to put an end to gerrymandering once and for all,” offered Jen Miller, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio.
“This plan was drafted in secret, which defied the Court’s order that map drawing be conducted in public. Fair elections require fair maps, and we ask the Court to again step up for Ohio voters and force the Commissioners to go back to the drawing board,” noted Andre Washington, president of the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute.
The groups ask the Ohio Supreme Court to invalidate the plan. Per the filing, “Given that the federal court in a parallel proceeding has now indicated that it may impose a plan as early as April 20, 2022, petitioners respectfully request an early resolution of these objections so as to avoid any question that these proceedings might be moot in light of a federal ruling that imposed the Fourth Plan.
Read the court filings below.