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Press Release

Petitioners Ask Ohio Supreme Court to Reject Redrawn Legislative Maps

New maps’ illegal partisan gerrymandering violates Ohio constitution.

January 26, 2022
Contact: Romario R. Ricketts, Media Contact, rickettsr@brennan.law.nyu.edu, 646-925-8734

Last night, in response to the state legis­lat­ive maps approved Saturday by the Ohio Redis­trict­ing Commis­sion, the peti­tion­ers in Ohio Organ­iz­ing Collab­or­at­ive v. Ohio Redis­trict­ing Commis­sion filed objec­tions to the maps with the Supreme Court of Ohio, arguing that the new maps viol­ate the Ohio consti­tu­tion’s prohib­i­tions against partisan gerry­man­der­ing. The peti­tion­ers ask the court to declare the maps invalid and order the commis­sion to enact new ones that comply with the Ohio Consti­tu­tion’s partisan fair­ness mandates. The Bren­nan Center for Justice at NYU Law and Reed Smith repres­ent the peti­tion­ers: the Ohio Organ­iz­ing Collab­or­at­ive, CAIR-Ohio, Ohio Envir­on­mental Coun­cil, Ahmad Aboukar, Crys­tal Bryant, Samuel Gresham Jr., Pren­tiss Haney, Mikayla Lee, and Pier­rette “Petee” Talley.  

“The commis­sion used the same cooks and the same ingredi­ents for the new maps as they did for the last batch. It’s no wonder that the result is still illegal gerry­man­der­ing that favors one party over another and deprives many Ohioans of a voice in Colum­bus,” said Alicia Bannon, director of the Judi­ciary program at the Bren­nan Center for Justice. “The commis­sion can’t just tweak an uncon­sti­tu­tional map and call it fair.”  

The peti­tion­ers filed two objec­tions to the commis­sion’s maps. First, they assert that the commis­sion created its new plan primar­ily to favor Repub­lic­ans and disfa­vor Demo­crats, in viol­a­tion of the Ohio consti­tu­tion. The objec­tions detail how the Repub­lican caucus map draw­ers, who drew the new plan, iden­ti­fied districts that leaned Repub­lican and then adjus­ted the district lines just enough to create districts that lean Demo­cratic by an extremely small margin. The previ­ous House map, for instance, had five districts lean­ing in favor of one party by less than a 52–48 percent margin. The new map has four­teen such districts, all coun­ted by the commis­sion as “Demo­cratic lean­ing.”  

“The new plan func­tions as a one-way ratchet in favor of Repub­lic­ans: Across a range of real­istic elec­tion outcomes, Repub­lican advant­age can only grow, and never shrink,” said Patrick Yingling, part­ner at Reed Smith. “The commis­sion drew Demo­cratic districts that are precari­ous at best, while main­tain­ing Repub­lican districts with much more favor­able margins.”  

The plaintiffs’ second objec­tion is that the Ohio Senate map does­n’t meet the propor­tion­al­ity stand­ard in the Ohio consti­tu­tion. The commis­sion could have drawn a Senate map that was propor­tion­ate to voter pref­er­ences. Instead, the revised Senate map has 20 Repub­lican-lean­ing seats and 13 Demo­cratic-lean­ing seats, which would still give Repub­lic­ans a veto-proof super­ma­jor­ity in the Senate. The commis­sion could have drawn a Senate map with 18 Repub­lican-lean­ing seats and 15 Demo­cratic-lean­ing seats.  

The objec­tions filed with the court in Ohio Organ­iz­ing Collab­or­at­ive v. Ohio Redis­trict­ing Commis­sion are here, along with back­ground on the case. 

Related resources:  

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