Ohio’s congressional district maps ruled unconstitutional, again

The Ohio General Assembly has 30 days to draw new congressional district maps.
The Ohio State House, 2018

The Ohio General Assembly has 30 days to draw new congressional district maps after the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Tuesday maps drawn and used for the May 3 primary are unconstitutional.

The maps were the second proposed set of congressional maps the court ruled were unfairly gerrymandered to help Republicans. The new maps ordered will be used for the 2024 congressional elections.

If lawmakers fail to pass new maps within 30 days, the Ohio Redistricting Commission will have another 30 days to draw new maps.

“This ruling is justice for Ohioans who voted overwhelmingly for fair maps and responsive, accountable government,” said House Minority Leader Allison Russo, D-Upper Arlington. “Unaccountable politicians lead to extreme policies that do not reflect the will of Ohioans, such as forcing a 10-year-old child to give birth. We must demand the democratic self-government that this country was founded on and has strived to achieve ever since. My Democratic colleagues and I are ready once again to get to work and deliver the fair, constitutional representation that Ohioans deserve.”

The court ruled a first set of congressional maps unconstitutional in January, sending the process back to the General Assembly. The General Assembly failed to act within 30 days, moving the process to the Redistricting Commission.

The commission passed the second set of maps in early March on a 5-2, party-line vote favoring Republicans. Despite lawsuits challenging the map, the court allowed them to be used for the 2022 primary and general election.

The court has also ruled five separate times proposed state legislative maps are unconstitutional. A federal court imposed one of those maps on the state, forcing a second primary Aug. 2 for the Ohio House and Senate.

That election, according to Secretary of State Frank LaRose, is expected to cost the state $20 million.

Tuesday’s ruling led to a renewed call from Rep. Jeff Crossman, D-Parma, for a criminal complaint to be filed against the Redistricting Commission.

Crossman filed a criminal complaint with the city of Columbus on May 24 alleging two counts of dereliction of duty and interference with civil rights against each of the Republican members of the Ohio Redistricting Committee.

“The Republican members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission – Mike DeWine, Keith Faber, Frank LaRose, Matt Huffman, and Bob Cupp – have continuously violated their constitutional duties and their oaths of office,” Crossman said. “Their utter refusal to serve the people of Ohio by creating fair legislative maps is the definition of corruption, pure and simple. We need to treat their behavior as criminal if we are ever going to get accountability.”

“Obviously, we’ve received the court’s ruling and our legal team is currently reviewing it,” Rob Nichols, a spokesman for LaRose, told The Center Square on Tuesday.