Ohio, Michigan Ask Supreme Court to Block Redistricting Orders

May 13, 2019 by Dan McCue

The attorneys for both Ohio and Michigan asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday to intervene and block lower court orders to rectify partisan gerrymanders.

In Ohio, a three-judge panel ruled that the state’s congressional district map was unconstitutionally gerrymandered to perpetuate Republican power and disadvantage Democrats.

The judges ordered the Ohio General Assembly to draw a new map by June 14.

But in an emergency petition filed with Supreme Court Friday afternoon, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, a Republican, asked the  justices to set aside the ruling of the judges — who refused on Thursday to stay their own order — pending the resolution of the state’s appeal before the High Court.

“The District Court reached this conclusion by adopting novel legal theories it copied from lower-court cases that this court is now reviewing. That is bad enough on its own, but the relief the court ordered makes its holding even worse,” Yost wrote.

Yost added: “Drafting a map that is ultimately unlikely to be used is exceptionally unfair and confusing for voters and candidates,” said the filing from the first-year attorney general.

The first-term attorney general also argued that the June 14 deadline was arbitrary because a map only need be produced by Sept. 19 of this year to be used in the 2020 elections.

In a separate emergency petition, Michigan Republicans also asked the justices to halt a court-ordered redrawing of the state’s congressional and legislative districts pending their appeal.

In the filing, attorney Gary Gordon, of Dykema Gossett in Lansing, Michigan, argued

Michigan’s political system would be thrown into “unnecessary chaos” if the legislature is forced to comply with an August 1 deadline to redraw dozens of congressional and legislative districts for the 2020 election.

As in Ohio, the current maps have been held to unlawfully favor Republicans over Democrats.

Like Yost’s petition in the Ohio case, Gordon said it would be particularly wasteful to proceed with drawing a new map when no one knows what the Supreme Court will decide in two pending partisan gerrymandering cases.

The High Court is expected to rule by June 30 on gerrymandering cases out of North Carolina and Maryland in which a central question is whether courts should review partisan-gerrymandering claims at all, or instead leave the issue to politicians and the political process.

The emergency petitions were filed with Justice Sonia Sotomayor who handles emergency appeals from the Sixth Circuit, a region that includes Ohio and Michigan.

 

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