U.S. Supreme Court Sends Ohio Gerrymandering Case Back to Lower Court for Dismissal

October 8, 2019 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday returned a legal challenge to Ohio’s politically gerrymandered congressional districts to a lower court, which is expected to dismiss the case in light of a high court ruling in June that federal courts have no place in such disputes.

Democrats have challenged the districts, claiming the Republican-drawn district unlawfully diminished the chances that Democrats would be elected to Congress from the state.

Writing for the majority in the June 27 decision in cases from North Carolina and Maryland, Chief Justice John Roberts held partisan gerrymandering claims “present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts.”

The ruling voided a May order from a three-judge panel in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, which had ordered a reconfiguring of the state’s 16 congressional districts.

The Supreme Court has put that order on hold until it ruled in the North Carolina and Maryland cases.

Roberts’ decision did allow for partisan gerrymandering to be challenged in lawsuits based on violations of a state constitution.

A state court in North Carolina has since struck down the Republican-drawn state legislative electoral map as an unlawful example of partisan gerrymandering under the state constitution.

In Ohio, the congressional district map was challenged by the League of Women Voters and the American Civil Liberties Union, neither of whom have said whether they will now file a claim based on a violation of the state constitution.

In a statement emailed to The Well News, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose noted that a new, bipartisan procedure will govern the drawing of new Ohio congressional maps after completion of the 2020 Census.

Ohio’s voters approved the new process through a constitutional amendment adopted in May 2018.

“Just last year, Ohioans overwhelmingly approved our new system for forming congressional districts that will put an end to the partisanship of the past,” LaRose said. “Reinvigorating our republic starts with fair legislative redistricting. A faithful execution of the law by commission members will make Ohio a national leader in a movement that can transform government to better work for the people, by the people.”

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