GOP Lawmakers Ask Ohio Court to Allow Midterms to Proceed Without New Maps
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Attorneys for the Republican leaders of the Ohio Legislature have asked the Ohio Supreme Court to “defer any action” on new congressional district maps until after the 2022 election.
Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp and Senate President Matt Huffman made their request in response to an ongoing effort by the League of Women Voters and a group of Ohio voters represented by the National Redistricting Action Fund to have the court declare the new map impermissibly partisan.
“Having embarked on its latest map-drawing journey with an irredeemably broken compass, it is no surprise that the [Ohio Redistricting] Commission has once again found itself lost,” a court filing by the National Redistricting Action Fund-backed plaintiffs said.
They contend the newest map, like other versions before it, creates a distinct “partisan advantage at odds with Ohio’s voting patterns.”
As it stands now, the map would create 10 Republican-leaning districts, three Democratic-leaning districts and two competitive or toss-up districts.
But Cupp and Huffman are standing by the GOP-led Ohio Redistricting Commission, contending in their court filings that the panel is “entitled to exercise reasonable discretion in balancing the highly complex factors that go into congressional redistricting,” and that its role isn’t simply to rubber-stamp alternative redistricting plans favored by others.
In their objections to the map, the League of Women Voters and the National Redistricting Action Fund group had both offered up maps drawn by Stanford and Harvard political science professors as models for possible replacements.
Cupp and Huffman, however, argue that the Ohio Redistricting Commission is “a creature of the Ohio constitution” and therefore the only legitimate body for making the new district maps with oversight from the legislature.
“It is the commission and the general assembly who solely possess the legislative authority to create legislative and congressional districts,” Cupp and Huffman’s brief states.
“It is dangerous and disingenuous to base Ohio constitutional law and the voting rights of millions of citizens on this untested and contradictory evidence conceived of by paid-for-hire mathematicians and social scientists,” the lawmakers argue.
Also raising concerns about the fate of the legislature’s map is Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.
In a court filing of his own, he reminded the court of how soon the 2022 congressional primary and general elections are, and asserted his belief that the court does not constitutionally have the power to “unilaterally implement its own congressional district plan.”
In asking for a delay in implementing a new map until after the 2022 election, all three officials blame the delay in coming up with an acceptable map on the “challenging scenario” of U.S. census delays brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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