COLUMBUS, Ohio - Today the ACLU of Ohio, the American Civil Liberties Union and Covington & Burling LLP filed objections to the recent iteration of state House and Senate districts adopted unanimously by all members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission on September 26. The Supreme Court of Ohio, over a year ago, had instructed the Commission to craft fair maps - for the sixth time - with a deadline of May 25, 2022. Finally, last week, the Commission enacted maps. But these maps, like all the predecessor plans rejected by the court, are still an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. Today’s objections were filed on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, and a group of individual Ohio voters.
In alignment with the positions of the petitioners in the two consolidated cases, these objections point out that the recently revised plan still violates Article XI, Section 6(B) of the Ohio Constitution because it disregards the provision’s explicit proportionality requirement. As the filing notes, “A gerrymander is equally offensive to democracy and violative of the Ohio Constitution whether it is passed by one or both political parties.”
“These General Assembly maps are so clearly in violation of the Ohio Constitution, that they simply cannot go unchallenged,” said Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio. “The fact that the commission enacted this gerrymandered plan, in total disregard of the voters, is one more illustration that the process is broken. More than four hundred days after the Supreme Court of Ohio - for the sixth time - ordered the Commission to craft fair maps, history is repeating itself - again. To put an end to this loop, real reform is needed: a new constitutional amendment in 2024.”
"We call on the Supreme Court of Ohio to reject these maps, because they violate the Ohio Constitution and the right of voters to have fair representation in the Ohio legislature," added Jen Miller, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. “The new statehouse maps were drawn for one reason only: to make sure that sitting lawmakers continue to win re-election. This several year saga has taught all of us that politicians cannot be trusted to draw impartial districts, which is why we will also do everything in our power to see the Citizens Not Politicians Amendment through to victory at the ballot box in 2024."
“Ohioans deserve fair maps that adhere to the preferences of Ohio voters - just as our constitution demands,” noted Andre Washington, president of the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute.“We will not stand by as Ohio politicians continue to grow their power at our expense. To use these gerrymandered maps through 2030, which are in clear violation of constitutional requirements, would be a disgrace to our democracy.”
The groups request the Supreme Court of Ohio to invalidate the General Assembly Plan. The Commission had before it a choice of substantially compliant maps submitted by Commission-appointed Independent Map Drawers and by an expert witness. Given that the Commission has already had sixteen months to act, the objections request that the Court issue an order that the Commission adopt a new plan within a few days.