COLUMBUS, Ohio — Late last night, the ACLU of Ohio, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Covington & Burling LLP filed objections to the revised state House and Senate maps adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission on Saturday. The Ohio Supreme Court ordered the Commission to redraw the legislative maps after the original plans were struck down as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders earlier this month. The objections 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 Ohio Redistricting Commission was given a second opportunity to do the right thing: to produce fair and compliant maps; however, the majority-members once again defied the Ohio Constitution and the Ohio Supreme Court, and put politics over people. But 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 second attempt to gerrymander Ohio’s legislative districts,” noted Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio.
“The commission failed to hear the court’s message that district maps are not to be manipulated to the detriment of voters or for political gain. The commission’s latest version of district maps does not meet the requirements put forth by the court or state constitution,” said Julie Ebenstein, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.
According to the lawsuit: “The revised plan packs Democrats into one Senate District in Hamilton County. The Senate Plan combined House districts 24, 25, and 26 to create Senate District 9, while combining House districts 30, 29, 28 to form a sprawling Senate District 8. The net effect was to pack Democratic voters into Senate District 9 – with a 72.61% Democratic vote share – while turning Senate district 8 into a Republican seat – with a 40.45% Democratic vote share.”
“To our dismay, the Ohio Redistricting Commission once again baked extreme partisan bias into the Ohio Senate and House districts. We ask the Ohio Supreme Court to strike down these gerrymandered maps, because Ohio voters deserve better,” Jen Miller, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio.
“The Ohio Redistricting Commission had a second chance to make right by Ohio voters and they failed. We again ask the court to ensure people can have an active voice in their government,” said Andre Washington, president of the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute
The groups ask the Ohio Supreme Court to order the Redistricting Commission to correct these violations and revise the plans in line with Section 6.
Read the court filings below.