The American Civil Liberties Union and other voter rights groups filed a lawsuit Thursday against the newly drawn state legislative districts, enacted last week by a Republican-dominated commission in Ohio , an opening salvo in what is likely to be a series of clashes across the country. as the ten-year redistribution process unfolds.
In Ohio Supreme Court lawsuit, rights groups accuse the Ohio Redistribution Commission of engaging in “extreme partisan gerrymandering” that violates the state’s constitution by formalizing the redesigned districts, which, according to the lawsuit, “are intended to, and will, entrench a qualified Republican veto-proof majority in both houses of the Ohio General Assembly for the next four years.”
Alora Thomas-Lundborg, senior counsel for the ACLU Voting Rights Project, said the lawsuit was the first to challenge a state redistribution map drawn up using the results of the 2020 census. “L ‘Ohio may be the canary in the coal mine from what we can expect from a fan-dominated map-drawing process,’ she said.
The card was passed in a party line vote on September 16, with the five Republicans on the committee, including Gov. Mike DeWine; Secretary of State Frank LaRose; Keith Faber, State Auditor; and Matt Huffman, the president of the state Senate – beating his two Democrats. But Mr DeWine has planned a legal challenge.
“We know this case will be in court,” DeWine said, according to TBEN News5Cleveland. “I am not judging the bill one way or another, it is up to a court to do so. What I’m sure deep down is that this committee could have proposed a bill that was much more clearly, clearly constitutional, and I’m sorry we didn’t.
Prior to this round of redistribution, voters in Ohio overwhelmingly approved measures to amend the state Constitution to limit partisan gerrymandering. A review by the Ohio Supreme Court of the constitutionality of the new map would be the first real test of whether the amendment is working as intended.
The lawsuit cites a wide and consistent gap between the share of the vote Republican candidates have drawn and their share of seats in the Ohio Legislature over the past 10 years.
“Republicans have maintained a hammer on qualified majority status in elections between 2012 and 2020 – sometimes controlling more than 65% of the seats in the Ohio House of Representatives and 75% of the seats in the State Senate of Ohio, even though their statewide vote split the decade ranged from just 46.2% to 59.7%, ”the lawsuit said, citing the official election results.
Two years ago, a federal court threw out the congressional district map that Ohio had used for most of the past decade, ruling that Republicans had given themselves an illegal partisan advantage that effectively predetermined the outcome. federal elections.
Mr Huffman, the commissioner who is chairman of the state Senate, defended the commission’s card last week in an opinion piece in The Columbus Dispatch and accused detractors of trying to apply their own kind of gerrymandering.
“The commission’s map is both constitutional and consistent with guidelines approved under the constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2015,” Huffman said. “Make no mistake, special interest groups have tried very hard to undermine the process by pressuring members to accept so-called ‘fairness of representation’. “