On September 16, 2021, just after midnight, the Ohio Redistricting Commission voted 5-2 on party lines to adopt a district plan designed to entrench a 3/5 veto-proof Republican supermajority in both chambers of the Ohio General Assembly for the next four years. In doing so, the Commission ignored a constitutional amendment overwhelmingly passed by Ohio voters in 2015 that bans partisan gerrymandering, requiring that the Commission refrain from drawing districts primarily to favor or disfavor a political party and adopt a district plan under which the number of districts favoring each party is proportional to the statewide preferences of voters. The plan enacted by the Commission especially harms and burdens the state’s fast-growing communities of color.
On September 27, the Brennan Center and co-counsel Reed Smith LLP filed a complaint in the Supreme Court of Ohio, challenging the Commission’s newly enacted district plan on behalf of a diverse coalition of community groups and civic leaders who organize around or are a part of the communities of color that stand to lose the most under this gerrymandered map. The suing parties (who are called Relators) allege that the enacted plan is a severe partisan gerrymander in violation of numerous provisions of the Ohio Constitution, including the recently-enacted partisan fairness provisions, the Equal Protection and Benefit Clause, and the Freedom of Speech and Association Clauses. The Relators ask the court to block use of the enacted plan and order the creation of fair maps.
The Relators are the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Ohio, the Ohio Environmental Council, and six individual Ohio voters: Pierrette Talley, Samuel Gresham Jr., Ahmad Aboukar, Mikayla Lee, Prentiss Haney, and Crystal Bryant, who live in different parts of the state impacted by gerrymandered maps.
On September 29, 2021, the court set the deadline for submission of evidence for October 22, 2021. Following the submission of evidence, the parties will brief their arguments. The court is expected to hear oral argument on December 8, 2021 in connection with a parallel case.
The district plan is also being challenged in two other cases before the Supreme Court of Ohio: (1) League of Women Voters of Ohio v. Ohio Redistricting Commission (Case No. 2021-1193); and (2) Bennett v. Ohio Redistricting Commission (Case No. 2021-1198).
- Complaint (September 27, 2021)
- Relators’ Motion for Scheduling Order (September 27, 2021)
- Case Management Order (September 27, 2021)
- Response to relators’ motion for scheduling order by respondents DeWine, LaRose and Faber (incorporating by reference Response in League of Women Voters of Ohio et al. v. Ohio Redistricting Commission et al., Case No. 2021-1193) (September 28, 2021)
- Response to relators’ motion for scheduling order by respondent Ohio Redistricting Commission (September 28, 2021)
- Response to relators’ motion for scheduling order by respondents Matt Huffman, President of the Ohio Senate, and Robert Cupp, Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives (incorporating by reference Response in League of Women Voters of Ohio et al. v. Ohio Redistricting Commission et al., Case No. 2021-1193) (September 28, 2021)
- Scheduling Order (September 29, 2021)
- Relators' Motion to Appoint a Master Commissioner for Resolution of Discovery Disputes (October 4, 2021)
- Motion to Compel Expedited Discovery (October 5, 2021)
- Respondents Senator Vernon Sykes' and House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes' Response to Relators' Motion to Compel Expedited Discovery (October 5, 2021)
- Opposition and Objections to Motion to Compel Expedited Discovery of Senate President Matt Huffman and Speaker Robert R. Cupp (October 6, 2021)
- Memo in Response to Motion to Compel Expedited Discovery of the Ohio Redistricting Commission (October 6 ,2021)
- Response to Motion to Compel Expedited Discovery of Governor Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, and Auditor of State Keith Faber (October 6, 2021)
- Order Granting in Part Relators' Motion to Compel Expedited Discovery and Denying Relators' Motion to Appoint a Master Commission (October 7, 2021)
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