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Press Release

Petitioners Ask Ohio Supreme Court to Reject Redrawn Legislative Maps and Order Commission to Consider Rodden Maps

For the Third Time, Ohio Redistricting Commission Produces State District Maps with Illegal Partisan Gerrymandering in Violation of Ohio Constitution

February 28, 2022
Contact: Romario R. Ricketts, Media Contact, rickettsr@brennan.law.nyu.edu, 646-925-8734

This morn­ing, in response to the third set of state legis­lat­ive maps approved on party lines by the Ohio Redis­trict­ing Commis­sion, the peti­tion­ers in Ohio Organ­iz­ing Collab­or­at­ive v. Ohio Redis­trict­ing Commis­sion filed objec­tions with the Supreme Court of Ohio, arguing that the new maps, like their prede­cessors, viol­ate the Ohio consti­tu­tion’s prohib­i­tions against partisan gerry­man­der­ing. The peti­tion­ers ask the court to declare the most recent maps, adop­ted by the commis­sion on Febru­ary 24, invalid. They urge the court to take up the district plan that was submit­ted to the General Assembly by Professor Jonathan Rodden and which has district lines that meet consti­tu­tional stand­ards. The peti­tion­ers ask the court to declare the Rodden plan valid and consti­tu­tional and order the commis­sion to state whether it will enact the Rodden plan and, if not, why it refuses to do so.

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 has now defied multiple orders from the Ohio Supreme Court and doubled down on blatantly unfair maps. Enough is enough,” said Yurij Rudensky, senior coun­sel in the Demo­cracy program at the Bren­nan Center for Justice. “This is a betrayal of Ohio’s voters, who deserve fair maps.”

The peti­tion­ers filed objec­tions to the commis­sion’s maps along with an expert report by Michael Latner, asso­ci­ate professor of polit­ical science at Cali­for­nia Poly­tech­nic State Univer­sity. These objec­tions are similar to prior filings submit­ted in response to the last set of maps from the commis­sion.

First, the peti­tion­ers assert that the commis­sion created its new plan primar­ily to favor Repub­lic­ans and disfa­vor Demo­crats, in viol­a­tion of the Ohio consti­tu­tion, and that the commis­sion­ers did so by identi­fy­ing districts that leaned Repub­lican and then adjus­ted the district lines just enough to create districts that lean Demo­cratic by an extremely small margin. The peti­tion­ers’ second objec­tion is that the commis­sions’ maps aren’t propor­tion­ate to Ohio voters’ pref­er­ences.

The latest House map contains 54 districts that favor Repub­lic­ans, 26 districts that favor Demo­crats, and 19 toss-up districts that both parties have an equal shot of winning. This means Repub­lic­ans have more than double the number of favor­able districts than Demo­crats. A small shift in voter pref­er­ence toward the GOP would give the party nearly 75 percent of House seats. The Senate map shows similar manip­u­la­tion and imbal­ance.

“The commis­sion’s latest maps have too much in common with its previ­ous efforts. Like the first and second plans, this one viol­ates the Ohio consti­tu­tion by build­ing in a substan­tial advant­age for one party,” said Patrick Yingling, part­ner at Reed Smith.

The objec­tions filed with the court in Ohio Organ­iz­ing Collab­or­at­ive v. Ohio Redis­trict­ing Commis­sion are here, along with the expert report and more back­ground and docu­ments related to the case.

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