COLUMBUS, Ohio — Last night, the ACLU of Ohio, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Covington & Burling LLP filed a motion with the Ohio Supreme Court, requesting that the Ohio Redistricting Commission show cause as to why they shouldn’t be held in contempt, for failing to follow the April 14 order requiring the Commission to convene, and to draft and adopt an entirely new General Assembly district plan, that meets the requirements of the Ohio Constitution by May 6. This motion was filed on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute, and a number of individual Ohio voters.
Per the April 14 court order from the majority, “As we suggested in League III, to promote transparency and increase public trust, the drafting of the plan is best accomplished in public view with frequent meetings to demonstrate the commission’s bipartisan efforts to reach a constitutional plan.”
The voting rights groups note the urgency of the situation has dramatically increased following a ruling from a federal three-judge panel on April 20; ordering that a previously rejected version of the legislative map will be used in the 2022 primary and general elections, if the commission fails to produce a fifth version by May 28.
“Further delay from the Ohio Redistricting Commission to convene and produce a fair map, guarantees that Ohioans will be forced to vote in this 2022 election cycle under a map that has been rejected as unconstitutional. The court should initiate contempt proceedings and order the Commission to show cause for their refusal to follow the law. The majority members of the Commission must be prevented from running out the clock in their continuing defiance of the constitution and the voters of this state, in service of their own self-serving schemes,” noted Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio.
“We call on the Ohio Supreme Court to hold the Ohio Redistricting Commission accountable to the prohibition on political gerrymandering that nearly ¾ of Ohio voters placed into the Ohio Constitution in 2015. We know there is still a pathway for fair state senate and house maps this year, but the Court must intervene,” stated Jen Miller, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio.
“For the better part of a year, the Ohio Redistricting Commission have repeatedly flouted the Ohio Constitution and Ohio voters. For the last three months, the Commission has blatantly disobeyed the Ohio Supreme Court’s express orders. Time is of the essence, and the situation must be escalated,” offered Andre Washington, president of the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute.
In the absence of showing adequate case, the ACLU of Ohio asks the Court to order the Commissioners to meet and begin their work and reengage with independent map drawers Dr. Johnson and Dr. McDonald by no later than Friday, April 29.
Read the motion below.