Loading...

Ohio Redistricting Commission Explains Why It Shouldn’t Be Held In Contempt

February 23, 2022 by Dan McCue
<strong></img>Ohio Redistricting Commission Explains Why It Shouldn’t Be Held In Contempt</strong>
Members of the Ohio Senate Government Oversight Committee hear testimony on a new map of state congressional districts in this file photo from Nov. 16, 2021, at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julie Carr Smyth, File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission have submitted written explanations for why they missed the deadline for drawing a state House district map after the state Supreme Court threatened to hold them in contempt.

The filing was first reported on the Democracy Docket website.

The Ohio Supreme Court has ordered the redistricting commission to redraw the maps for the state House and Senate districts three times since January, after the body’s first try resulted in a map that would favor Republicans to win two-thirds of the contested seats.

The court tossed the original map, calling it a violation of the Ohio Constitution, and held the mapmakers must render maps that award districts in a proportion that corresponds closely with recent statewide vote totals. In the elections sampled, Republicans received only 54% of the vote.

So far, that hasn’t happened.

And on Feb. 18, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor of the Ohio Supreme Court, a Republican, ordered the commission to show cause for why its members should not be held in contempt for failure to comply with the court’s order.

In a response filed with the court today, the members of the commission argue they tried to respond to O’Connor’s order in good faith, but simply were unable to agree on a map within the 10-day time frame she laid out.

They also admitted to continued confusion over the meaning of certain concepts inherent to the mapmaking process, such as proportionality and political asymmetry. 

The commission asked for a few additional days to continue their work, its members saying they are sure they can adopt a compliant general assembly plan.

The commission further attempts to avoid being held in contempt of court on procedural grounds, arguing O’Connor should have cited House Speaker Bob Cupp and Senate President Matt Huffman, both Ohio Republicans, as individuals, rather than the commission as a body.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose and State Auditor Keith Faber, both Ohio Republicans, also argue they took all reasonable steps to comply with the order, but there was no way for the two of them to enact a map by themselves.

Both men said they had serious doubts about the constitutionality of the original plan, but said questions they raised about the map went unanswered.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine also argued that he cannot be held in contempt of court because he is only one of seven members in the commission without the capacity to compel action. 

DeWine further claims that the redistricting provisions in the Ohio Constitution do not allow the court to compel the passage of a specific plan nor allow them to threaten contempt.

Democratic members of the panel, meanwhile, argue that they did everything in their power to pass their revised plan.

State Sen. Vernon Sykes and House Minority Leader Allison Russo, both Ohio Democrats, said no constitutional deficiencies were raised regarding their map proposal, but the Republican commissioners voted against it and declared an impasse without further effort. 

Sykes and Russo are asking the court to either declare their map proposal constitutional or order a briefing schedule to receive detailed explanations and evidence of alleged constitutional deficiencies regarding their map proposal.

The League of Women Voters of Ohio and the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio are among the groups who filed motions demanding the commission be held to account.

“The majority [of] commissioners delayed until the last minute, and then brazenly refused to comply with the Ohio Supreme Court’s order to produce a new plan,” Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio said in a press release last week. “We are calling for the court to require them to answer for their defiance.”

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

In The News

Health

Voting

Redistricting

June 30, 2022
by Dan McCue
Supreme Court to Hear Case on State Authority Over Elections

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear an appeal from North Carolina Republicans that could ultimately remove... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear an appeal from North Carolina Republicans that could ultimately remove state court authority over congressional redistricting.  If they decide for the petitioners in Moore v. Harper, the justices would dramatically limit when state courts could intervene,... Read More

June 7, 2022
by Dan McCue
Judge Tosses Congressional Map in Louisiana Citing Racial Gerrymander

BATON ROUGE, La. — A federal judge struck down Louisiana’s newly adopted congressional district map, ruling it must be redrawn... Read More

BATON ROUGE, La. — A federal judge struck down Louisiana’s newly adopted congressional district map, ruling it must be redrawn to include a second district that gives Black voters the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice. U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick of the U.S.... Read More

May 31, 2022
by Brock Blasdell
Demographics and Redrawn Boundaries Could Net Dems Big Win in California

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Increasing Asian and Latino populations across California have reshaped the state’s voter demographics heading into the... Read More

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Increasing Asian and Latino populations across California have reshaped the state’s voter demographics heading into the 2022 midterms. Amid congressional redistricting, it could create the perfect opportunity for Democrats to win seats in the 2022 primary and general elections. “California lost a... Read More

May 31, 2022
by Dan McCue
New Hampshire Supreme Court Steps In to End Redistricting Drama

CONCORD, N.H. — The New Hampshire Supreme Court on Tuesday formally approved a congressional district map drawn by a special... Read More

CONCORD, N.H. — The New Hampshire Supreme Court on Tuesday formally approved a congressional district map drawn by a special master, effectively putting an end to the stalemate between the Republicans who control the state Legislature and Republican Gov. Chris Sununu. New Hampshire has only two... Read More

May 23, 2022
by Dan McCue
State Court Approves Controversial CD Map for New York

ALBANY, N.Y. — A state court judge formally approved a controversial new congressional map Friday night, ratifying a map that... Read More

ALBANY, N.Y. — A state court judge formally approved a controversial new congressional map Friday night, ratifying a map that could prove costly to Democrats while forcing two of the state’s most prominent House members to square off against each other in the upcoming primary. Steuben... Read More

May 19, 2022
by Dan McCue
New York’s State of Mind: BAM! BANG! KRUNCH! KAPOW!

NEW YORK — It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In reliably blue New York State, where more than 53%... Read More

NEW YORK — It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In reliably blue New York State, where more than 53% of registered voters identify as Democrats, a newly drawn district map was supposed to serve as a bulwark against Republicans taking control of Congress in January.... Read More

News From The Well