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Ohio Supreme Court Tosses Out Ohio's Congressional Map

Republican state Sen. Rob McColley presents a new congressional district map, drawn by the Senate Republican Caucus.
Andy Chow
/
Ohio Public Radio
Republican state Sen. Rob McColley presents a new congressional district map, drawn by the Senate Republican Caucus.

Updated January 14 2021, at 3:21 p.m.

The Ohio Supreme Court has struck down the state's proposed new Congressional map. The court rejected the map of the state’s 15 congressional districts as gerrymandered, sending the blueprint back for another try. The court is giving lawmakers 30 days to fix the plan.

The court's majority said the map of U.S. House districts was drawn strategically to advantage Republicans. Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2018 that set up a new system to avoid gerrymandering. Voting rights and Democratic groups challenged the map as “unduly” favoring one party, a constitutional violation.

Republicans had defended the map as “highly competitive.”

The 4-3 decision returns the process to the powerful Ohio Redistricting Commission, which was already reconstituting to redraw legislative maps rejected earlier this week. The court is giving the General Assembly specific instructions on what to fix, including a split in Hamilton and Cuyahoga County.

Ohio League of Women Voters President Jen Miller said it’s a victory for voters.

"I commend the high court for being very clear on what their expectations are and how they are going to measure whether the map created is fair or not. That’s real teeth that we need," said Miller.

ACLU of Ohio Freda Levenson also praises the ruling saying it "proclaims that ‘gerrymandering is the antithetical perversion of representative democracy,’ and enforces the mandate put forward by Ohio voters in 2018 who demanded an end to this abuse of power.”

An emailed statement from Ohio Democratic Party Chair Elizabeth Walters reads, Once again, the Ohio Supreme Court did what the legislature refused to do – listened to the will of Ohio voters. Any map that further rigs our state in favor of one party over another is unacceptable and we’ll be watching closely to make sure any new maps reflect the fair representation that Ohioans overwhelmingly called for.”

This is a developing story and more details will be added as they become available.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.