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.
“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