Ohio Supreme Court strikes down congressional map currently in use for 2022 election
Updated July 19 2022 at 3:17 PM EST.
The Ohio Supreme Court invalidated a second proposed map of Ohio’s 15 U.S. House districts. The state's high court said the map violates the partisan gerrymandering prohibitions contained in the Ohio Constitution. The map is currently in use for the 2022 election.
The Ohio Redistricting Commission adopted the GOP-drawn map in March, which was swiftly criticized by voters-rights groups and challenged in court for being gerrymandered.
The decision said the map "creates just three seats with Democratic vote shares over 52 percent (and one of those is at 52.15 percent). By contrast, all the Republican-leaning seats comfortably favor Republican candidates."
The map created 10 safe Republican seats, three safe Democratic seats and two Democratic-leaning tossups. GOP commissioners called it their best attempt at avoiding partisan favor while abiding by the Constitution’s specific provisions. The decision returns the map to state lawmakers, then the commission, for a third try.
The split among the justices was as it's been throughout the redistricting saga. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Michael P. Donnelly, Melody Stewart, and Jennifer Brunner joined the majority opinion.
Justices Sharon L. Kennedy, Patrick F. Fischer, and R. Patrick DeWine dissented, stating that the commission’s plan met the constitutional requirements by attempting to “maximize competitive districts” that did not favor one party over another.
In January, the court invalidated a congressional map that was passed by the Ohio Legislature in November. In that map, 80% of the congressional districts favored Republicans. The court's ruling stated that map did not reflect Ohio's voter preference by party, which is about 54% Republican and 46% Democratic.
The groups that have challenged the Ohio House and Senate maps also challenged the congressional maps. But because filing deadlines for the case were in late May, this second map would be used for the 2022 election unless a federal court ruled otherwise. That led the League of Women Voters to drop their suit against the map for the 2022 election and push their challenge for the next congressional election in 2024.
The Ohio Supreme Court also repeatedly struck down the Ohio House and Senate district maps passed by the Ohio Redistricting Commission for being unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor Republicans. Ohio was ordered by a federal court to implement maps that were found unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court.