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Ohio Organizing Collaborative v. Ohio Redistricting Commission

The Brennan Center and co-counsel filed suit in the Supreme Court of Ohio on behalf of several community groups and Ohio voters challenging the Ohio Redistricting Commission’s extreme partisan gerrymander of the state’s legislative maps.

Published: September 24, 2021

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).

 

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