COLUMBUS, Ohio — Today, the ACLU of Ohio, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Covington & Burling LLP filed papers opposing an emergency motion that was filed yesterday in federal court, urging Judge Marbley to deny the plaintiffs’ two-part motion to vacate the stay that he entered earlier this week, and refer the matter to a three judge panel. The case, Michael Gonidakis v. Ohio Redistricting Commission, requests that the redistricting process be taken away from the Ohio Supreme Court, and have it overseen instead by federal courts. The voting rights groups now request that the Court continue to stay all federal proceedings, because it is still premature to take this matter of legislative redistricting away from the Ohio Supreme Court, where it is ongoing and properly belongs.

The opposition was filed on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Ohio and the A. Philip Randolph Institute of Ohio.

On March 16, the Ohio Supreme Court issued an order invalidating the third set of General Assembly district maps and set forth a schedule for the expeditious resolution of that process. It contemplates the enactment of a bipartisan plan by March 28.

“There is no question that the Ohio Supreme Court is committed to enforcing adherence to Ohio’s constitution, and is closely supervising, Ohio’s legislative redistricting process, with the most recent ruling issuing just two days ago.  This federal suit is an attempted end run around both the Supreme Court and the Constitution, and serves no legitimate purpose. It seeks to supplant the Court and the Commission from their proper constitutional roles, and to implement a map that has already been thrown out as an unconstitutional gerrymander,” noted Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio.

Per the Ohio Supreme Court’s order, a set of “frequent” public drafting session must take place, and the Ohio Redistricting Commission has already scheduled the first such session for tomorrow, Saturday, March 19 at 2pm. The Court has carefully dictated new procedures to help guide the map-drawing process in order to encourage consistency with the Ohio Constitution.

“Our case before the Ohio Supreme Court continues to evolve every day in a meaningful and substantive way. The voters of Ohio expected the Ohio Supreme Court to oversee potential litigation, as explicitly outlined in the anti-gerrymandering ballot amendments that passed overwhelmingly in 2015 and 2018. This is the proper jurisdiction. Given the most recent Supreme Court ruling, there is a very real likelihood that a constitutionally compliant map is just days away,” said Jen Miller, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio.

“We file this motion to prevent the parties from trying to bypass the Ohio Supreme Court. To have the rejected, gerrymandered legislative map in place would be a disgrace to democracy and the people of Ohio,” said Andre Washington, president of the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute.

Read the opposition filing below.