© 2021 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Politics

Third Lawsuit Filed Over Ohio's New Legislative Maps

Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, foreground, speaks to state Sen. Vernon Sykes, seated, the co-chair of the Ohio Redistricting Commission, as other members of the panel prepared for a meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.
Julie Carr Smyth
/
AP
Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, foreground, speaks to state Sen. Vernon Sykes, seated, the co-chair of the Ohio Redistricting Commission, as other members of the panel prepared for a meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.

A total of three lawsuits have been filed so far in the Ohio Supreme Court against the maps approved on a party line vote by the Ohio Redistricting Commission earlier this month.

Republicans have said those maps were drawn to continue the GOP’s supermajorities in the Ohio House and Senate. And Democrats, groups tied to them and non-partisan organizations are fighting back.

The latest suit comes from the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, the Council on American-Islamic Relations Ohio, the Ohio Environmental Council, five Democratic voters and Sam Gresham of Common Cause Ohio.

Jeniece Brock with the Ohio Organizing Collaborative said this lawsuit makes claims similar to the other two lawsuits, but was filed on behalf of communities of color, who she sid are often left out of the conversation.

“So the individuals and organizations that have joined us have joined together in order to make sure that their voices are heard from our communities’ perspective and the challenges that they face," Brock said.

A suit was filed Friday by the National Redistricting Action Fund, led by Eric Holder, the U.S. attorney general under President Obama. These lawsuits follow a suit filed last week by the League of Women Voters of Ohio with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio.

All the lawsuits claim the maps are unconstitutionally gerrymandered for Republican wins and each will be decided by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and Gov. Mike DeWine have said they were expecting the lawsuits, noting that maps drawn in 2011 were challenged in court and were upheld. Huffman and Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) had inserted into the state budget a provision that would have allowed them to hire outside counsel in the event that the maps for the Ohio House and Senate or for Congress are challenged. That provision was vetoed by DeWine.

When the maps were upheld in 2011, Republican Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor voted against them, along with fellow Republican Paul Pfeifer and the only Democrat on the court at the time, Yvette McGee-Brown. Now, three of the seven justices are Democrats, and O’Connor is still chief justice.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.