For the fifth time, the Ohio state Supreme Court has rejected a map of state legislative lines from the Republican-led redistricting commission.
After Republicans on the state redistricting committee made very few changes to their fourth submission, Ohio’s high court ruled that the latest maps violated state redistricting laws because they heavily favored Republicans.
The map is geared to give Republicans 54% of the state legislative seats, while 46% are favored Democratic. But the of districts that are competitive and lean Democratic in fact outnumber the Republican seats that have a tighter margin.
Five Republicans and two Democrats serve on the state’s redistricting committee.
“This court has been placed in a remarkable position,” wrote Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor.
But Republicans might still be able to keep the maps they want anyway.
A federal three-judge panel composed of two judges appointed by former Republican President Donald Trump and one by Democratic President Bill Clinton ruled in late April that the stalemate between the commission and the state Supreme Court infringes on Ohio voter’s rights. They ruled the two have until May 28 to agree on and enact a map.
If they don’t, then the panel decided it would pick one of the redistricting committee’s submissions for the Aug. 2 primary and November general election, even if it had been rejected by the state Supreme Court.
Ohio’s Supreme Court wrote in its decision Wednesday that the commission has until June 3 to submit a map for review.
O’Connor cited an article in The Columbus-Dispatch, in which state Senate President Matt Huffman, a Republican, said that the federal ruling means, “We can kind of do what we want.”
“‘Do what we want’ apparently translates into the Republican-majority members of the redistricting commission ignoring rulings of this state’s highest court and the mandates of Ohio’s Constitution,” wrote O’Connor.
“It effectively instructed the Republican members of the commission that all they had to do to get their way was to wait out the clock until May 28—despite the valid order of this court ordering the commission to adopt an entirely new General Assembly–district plan that complies with the Ohio Constitution,” she added.