Ohio Gerrymandered Congressional Map Struck Down by Ohio Supreme Court as ‘Constitutional Violation’

By Michele Chadwick and Noe Herrera

COLUMBUS, OH – In a close 4-3 ruling, the Supreme Court of Ohio has determined that Ohio’s gerrymandered congressional map was “an abuse of power,” and ordered the Ohio Attorney General to create a new map that abides by the Ohio Constitution.

In 2018, Article XIX was passed into the Ohio Constitution detailing the requirements for fair divisions of congressional district plans.

According to the case, Adams v. DeWine, “Despite the adoption of Article XIX, the evidence in these cases makes clear beyond all doubt that the General Assembly did not heed the clarion call sent by Ohio voters to stop political gerrymandering.”

Adams v. DeWine determined that the General Assembly failed to follow Article XIX: “The bill resulted in districts in which undue political bias is—whether viewed through the lens of expert statistical analysis or by application of simple common sense—at least as if not more likely to favor Republican candidates than the 2011 reapportionment that impelled Ohio’s constitutional reforms.”

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) website, arguments about the gerrymandered Ohio map started on Dec. 28, 2021. The fight to strike down the congressional map came only five months before the Ohio primary election.

In Justice Michael Patrick Donelly’s opinion, “gerrymandering is the antithetical perversion of representative democracy [and] an abuse of power – by whichever political party has control to draw geographic boundaries.” Donelly added that gerrymandering allows “the politicians to pick the voters!”

Dissenting Justices Kennedy, Fischer, and DeWine argued the court ruled in favor of a “flawed analysis” and “petitioners have failed to meet their burden to establish a violation…”

They argued that concurring judges based their opinions on “policy preference [which] has nothing to do with the law.

Nevertheless, “Ohio lawmakers will be sent back to the drawing board” to create a new district map within 30 days according to the ACLU website. Otherwise, the Ohio Redistricting Commission will have another 30 days to find a solution.

The court ruled that “the General Assembly shall remedy any legal defects in the previous plan identified by the court.”

But the new plan “shall include no changes to the previous plan other than those made in order to remedy those defects … That is, the new plan must look exactly like the enacted plan, save for the adjustments to specific legal defects … identified by the court.”

Senior staff attorney with the ACLU, Julie Ebenstein, argued this case was “another huge victory for voting rights” and that the ruling was an “indisputable message that district maps are not to be toyed with or manipulated to the detriment of voters.”

About The Author

Michele is a senior at UC Santa Barbara from Los Angles County.

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