Last night petitioners from Ohio Organizing Collaborative v. Ohio Redistricting Commission — a lawsuit in progress in Ohio Supreme Court challenging partisan gerrymandering in new legislative maps — filed a motion to intervene as plaintiffs in Gonidakis et al v. Ohio Redistricting Commission and Frank Larose, a lawsuit filed in federal court on February 18. Mike Gonidakis, the president of Ohio Right to Life, and the other plaintiffs in the federal case seek to compel the Ohio Secretary of State to accept a recent iteration of new legislative maps drawn by the Ohio Redistricting Commission. The Ohio Supreme Court had rejected those maps because their district lines violate the state constitution’s prohibition on partisan gerrymandering. The commission did not meet the court’s deadline for curing these violations, instead stating on February 18 that it had reached an “impasse.”
In their motion to intervene in Gonidakis et al, the petitioners argue that the federal lawsuit endangers their interests in having fair maps drawn for Ohio voters, as their case in Ohio Supreme Court is ongoing. Currently, the Ohio Supreme Court is reviewing responses from the commission to its February 18 order to show cause for failing to meet the deadline for new maps.
The petitioners, who are represented by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law and Reed Smith, are the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, CAIR-Ohio, Ohio Environmental Council, Ahmad Aboukar, Crystal Bryant, Samuel Gresham Jr., Prentiss Haney, Mikayla Lee, and Pierrette “Petee” Talley.
Yurij Rudensky, senior counsel in the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, had the following comment:
“Our clients are seeking to intervene in this federal lawsuit so that those refusing to follow the state constitution don’t get an easy way out. The commission’s most recent maps are not constitutional. They are not just. They would distribute political power in Ohio unfairly, with ramifications for Ohioans’ lives for years to come.”
Brian Sutherland, partner at Reed Smith, had the following comment:
“The Ohio Supreme Court must be given time to fulfill its responsibilities in Ohio Organizing Collaborative v. Ohio Redistricting Commission. The court hasn’t finished its work, nor has the commission.”
The motion and more filings and background on Ohio Organizing Collaborative v. Ohio Redistricting Commission are available here.
- “Petitioners Ask Ohio Supreme Court to Enforce Order Against the Ohio Redistricting Commission” Brennan Center for Justice press release, Feb. 18, 2022
- “Ohio Supreme Court Orders Second Redrawing of Legislative Maps Due to Partisan Gerrymandering,” Brennan Center for Justice press release, Feb. 7, 2022
- “Victory for Ohioans: Ohio Supreme Court Throws Out Legislative Maps for Illegal Partisan Gerrymandering,” Brennan Center for Justice press release, Jan. 12, 2022
- “COVID Inequities Show Why Ohio’s Fair Map Mandate Must Not Be Ignored” by Jeniece Brock, policy and advocacy director, Ohio Organizing Collaborative
- “Ohio Take Note: Fairness Is a Universal Value” by Tala Dahbour, policy director, CAIR-Ohio
- “How Gerrymandering Contributes to Environmental Injustice” by Callia Téllez, environmental policy fellow, Ohio Environmental Council
- “Lawmaker’s ‘Rigged’ Map Would Steal Ohioans’ Right to Representation” by Kathleen Clyde and Greg Moore, co-chairs, Ohio Citizens Redistricting Commission
- “We’re Suing Ohio Over Its Gerrymandered Voting District Maps” by Alicia Bannon, Yurij Rudensky, and Julia Kirschenbaum, Brennan Center for Justice