The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that a fourth set of Ohio House and Senate district maps are still unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor Republicans and has ordered the Ohio Redistricting Commission to reconvene and adopt new General Assembly maps.
In a 4-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the revised plan “has not materially changed from” the third set of maps invalidated by the Court on March 16th.
The Court majority noted that the commission initially embraced the Court’s directive to draft the maps rather than adopt maps drafted solely by the Republican leaders of the Ohio House and Senate.
But in the end, the “process devolved into the same one-sided partisan map-drawing process that led us to invalidate the previous three plans.”
The Court stated that it discerned “intent of partisan favoritism from the timeline that led to the commission’s decision to scrap the work of the independent map drawers in favor of a plan that included minimal changes to one already invalidated as unconstitutional.”
The Court ordered the commission to file its new plan with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office by 9 a.m. on May 6, and with the Court by noon, May 6.
The Court noted that “for good cause shown,” the commission may seek an extension of time to submit the new plan.
The opinion stated that during final deliberations on the fourth set of maps, commission members misinterpreted the Court’s March 16th order and believed they could not request an extension of time.
Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Michael P. Donnelly, Melody Stewart, and Jennifer Brunner joined the majority opinion.
Justices Sharon L. Kennedy, Patrick F. Fischer, and R. Patrick DeWine each issued a dissenting opinion.
Patrick DeWine is the son of Governor Mike DeWine, who is a member of the Ohio Redistricting Commission.
Ohio voters previously overwhelmingly approved changes to the state constitution to limit partisan line-drawing in the redistricting process.